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Full text of "The history of slavery and the slave trade, ancient and modern. The forms of slavery that prevailed in ancient nations, particularly in Greece and Rome. The African slave trade and the political history of slavery in the United States. Compiled from authentic materials"

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University of California Berkeley 

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BY W. 0. BLAKE. 




Entered according to act of ConarMS, in the venr 18.07, 

BY .1. & II. MILLER, 

in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern District 

of Ohio. 





Early existence of Slavery in the world. The Mosaic institutions in regard to Slav 
ery. Hebrews, how reduced to servitude. The Jubilee. Distinction between 
native and foreign Slaves. Voluntary Slaves : the Mercenarii of the Romans ; 
the Prodigals or debtor Slaves ; the Delinquents ; the Enthusiasts. Involuntary 
Slaves ; prisoners of war, and captives stolen in peace, with the children and de 
scendants of both. Voluntary Slavery introduced by decree of the Roman Sen 
ate. Slavery in Rome : condition of the Slaves ; cruelty to the old and sick ; 
prisons for Slaves; Sicily: servile war and breaking up of the prisons. Piracy 
esteemed honorable by the early Greeks. Piratical expeditions to procure 
Slaves. Causes of the gradual extinction of Slavery in Europe. Origin of the 
African Slave Trade by the Portuguese. Followed by most of the maritime na 
tions of Europe 17 


existence of Slavery in Greece. Proportion of Slaves to Freemen. Their 
numbers in Athens and Sparta. Mild government of Slaves in Athens the re 
verse in Sparta. Instances of noble conduct of Slaves towards their masters. 
Probable origin of Slavery, prisoners of war. Examples in history of whole cities 
and states being reduced to Slavery: Judea, Miletoa, Thebes. Slaves obtained by 
kidnapping and piracy. The traffic supposed to be attended by a curse. Certain 
nations sell their own people into Slavery. Power of masters over their Slaves ; 
the power of Life and Death. The Chians, the first Greeks who engaged in a 
regular Slave-trade. Their fate in being themselves finally reduced to Slavery. 
First type of the Maroon wars. The Chian Slaves revolt. The hero slave Dri- 
raacos. His history. Honors paid to his memory. Servile war among the Sa- 
mians. Athenian laws to protect Slaves from cruelty. Slaves entitled to bring an 
action for assault. Death penalty for crimes against Slaves. Slaves entitled to 
purchase freedom. Privileges of Slaves in Athens. Revolt of Slaves working iu 
Mines. The temples a privileged sanctuary for Slaves who were cruelly treated. 
Tyrannical masters compelled to sell their Slaves. Slave auctions. Diogenes. 
Price of Slaves. Public Slaves, their employment. Educated by the State, and 
intrusted with important duties. Domestic Slaves ; their food and treatment. 
The Slaves partake in the general decline of morals. History and Description of 
Athens... 23 




The Helots: leading events of their History summed up. Their Masters de 
scribed, The Spartans, their manners, customs and constitutions. Distinguish- 
irig traits : severity, resolution and perseverance, treachery and craftiness. Mal- 
riage. Treatment of Infants. Physical Education of Youth. Their endurance 
of hardships. The Helots : their origin ; supposed to belong to the State ; power 
of life and death over them ; how subsisted ; property acquired by them ; their 
military service. Plato, Aristotle, Isocrates, Plutarch and other writers convict 
the Spartans of barbarity towards them ; the testimony of Myron on this point ; 
instances of tyranny and cruelty. Institution of the Crypteia ; annual massacre 
'of the Helots. Terrible instance of treachery. Bloody servile wars. Sparta en 
gaged in contests with her own vassals. Relies upon foreign aid. Earthquake, 
and vengeance of the Helots. Constant source of terror to their masters. Other 
classes of Slaves. Their privileges and advancement. Slavery in Crete : classes 
and condition. Mild treatment. Strange privileges during certain Festivals. 
Slaves of Syracuse rebel and triumph. The Arcadians 38 


Slavery under the kings and in the early ages of the Republic. Its spread, and 
effect on the poorer class of Freemen. The Licinian law. Prevalence of the two 
extremes, immense wealth and abject poverty. Immense number of Slaves it 
Sicily. They revolt. Eunus, their leader. Their arms. Horrible atrocities 
committed by them. The insurrection crushed. Fate of Eunus. Increase oi 
Slaves in Rome. Their employment in the arts. Numbers trained for the Am 
phitheatre. The Gladiators rebel. Spartacus, his history. Laws passed to re 
strain the cruelty of masters. Effects of Christianity on their condition. Their 
numbers increased by the invasion of northern hordes. Sale of prisoners of war 
into slavery. Slave-dealers follow the armies. Foreign Slave-trade. Slave auc 
tions. The Slave markets. Value of Slaves at different periods. Slaves owned 
by the State, and their condition and occupations. Private Slaves, their grades 
and occupations. Treatment of Slaves, public and private. Punishment of of 
fenses. Fugitives and Criminals. Festival of Satnrnus, their privileges. Their 
dress. Their sepulchres. The Gladiators, their combats 16 



Abstract of the laws in regard to Slavery. Power of Life and Death. Cruelty ol 
Masters. Laws to protect the Slave. Constitution of Antoninus : of Claudius. 
Husband and Wife could not be separated ; nor parents and children. Slave 
could not contract marriage, nor own property. His peculium, or private prop 
erty, held only by usage. Regulations in respect to if. Master liable for damages 
for wrongful acts of his Slave. The murderer of a Slave, liable for a capital 
offense, or for damages. Fugitive Slaves, not lawfully harbored : to conceal them, 
theft. Master entitled to pxirsue them. Duties of the authorities. Slave hunters. 
Laws defining the condition of children born of Slaves. Laws to reduce fre'e 


persons to Slavery. How the state of Slavery might be terminated; by manu 
mission ; by special enactments ; wbat Slaves entitled to freedom. Practice of 
giving liberty to Slaves in times of civil tumult and revolution. Effects of Slav 
ery under tLe Republic, and under the Empire 5? 



Barbary the Carthaginians, the Romans, the Vandals. Northern Africa annexed 
to the Greek Empire. Conquered by the Saracens. The Spanish Moors pass 
over to Africa. Their expeditions to plunder the coasts of Spain, and carry off 
the Christian Spaniards into Slavery. Cardinal Ximenes invades Barbary, 1509, 
to release the captives. Barbarossa, the sea-rover, becomes king of Algiers. 
The Christian Slaves build the mole. Expeditions of Charles V. against the 
Moors. Insurrection of the Slaves. Charles releases 20,000 Christians from Sla 
very, and carries off 10,000 Mohammedans to be reduced to Slavery in Spain. 
The Moors retaliate by seizing 6000 Minorcans for Slaves. Second expedition of 
Charles its disastrous termination his army destroyed prisoners sold into 
Slavery. The Algerines extend their depredations into the English Channel. 
Condition of the Christian slaves in Barbary treated with more humanity than 
African slaves among Christians. Ransom of the Slaves by their countrymen. 
British Parliament appropriates money for the purpose. The French send bomb 
vessels in 1688. Lord Exmouth in 1816 releases 3000 captives, and puts an end 
to Christian Slave/y in Barbary. 68 



Negroland, or Nigritia, described. Slavery among the Natives. Mungo Park's esti 
mate of the number of Slaves.- The Portuguese navigators explore the African 
wast. Natives first carried off in 1434. Portuguese establish the Slave-Trade on 
.he Western Coast followed by the Spaniards. America discovered colonized 
by the Spaniards, who reduce the Natives to Slavery they die by thousands in 
consequence. The Dominican priests intercede for them. Negroes from Africa 
substituted as Slaves, 1510. Cardinal Ximenes remonstrates. Charles V. en 
courages the trade. Insurrection of the Slaves at Segovia. Other nations colo 
nize America. First recognition of the Slave-Trade by the English government 
in 1562, reigii of Elizabeth. First Negroes imported into Virginia in a Dutch ves 
sel in 1620. The French and other commericial notions engage in the traffic. 
The great demand for Slaves on the African coast. Negroes fighting and kidnap 
ping each other. Slave factories established by the English, French, Dutch, 
Spanish, and Portuguese. Slave factory described. How Slaves were procured 
in the interior , 93 



The Mohammedan slave-trade. Nubian slaves captured for the slave market of the 
Levant. Mohammed AIL Grand expeditions for hunting. A""n^l tribute o! 


slaves. The encampment. Attack upon the villages. Courage of the Natives. 
Their heroic resistance. Cruelty of the victors. Destruction of villages. The 
captives sold into slavery 102 

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England first engages in the Slave-Trade in 1562 Sir John Hawkins' voyages. 
. British first establish a regular trade in 1618. Second charter granted in 1631. 
Third charter in 16452. Capture of the Dutch Forts. Retaken byDe Ruyter. 
Fourth charter in 1672 ; the King and Duke of York shareholders. Monopoly 
abolished, and free trade in Slaves declared. Flourishing condition of the Trade. 
Numbers annually exported. Public sentiment aroused against the Slave-Trade 
in England. Parliament resolve to hear Evidence upon the subject. Abstract of 
the Evidence taken before a Select Committee of the House of Commons in 1790 
and 1791. Revealing the Enormities committed by the Natives on the persons of 
one another to procure Slaves for the Europeans. War and Kidnapping imput 
ed Crimes. Villages attacked and burned, and inhabitants seized and sold. 
African chiefs excited by intoxication to sell their subjects 106 




Abstract of Evidence before House of Commons, continued. The enslaved Africans 
on board the Ships their dejection. Methods of confining, airing, feeding and 
exercising them. Mode of stowing them, and its horrible consequences. Inci 
dents of the terrible Middle Passage shackles, chains, whips, filth, foul air, dis 
ease, suffocation. Suicides by drowning, by starvation, by wounds, by strang 
ling. Insanity and Death. Manner of selling them when arrived at their desti 
nation. Deplorable situation of the refuse or sickly Slaves. Mortality among 
Seamen engaged in the Slave-Trade. Their miserable condition and sufferings 
from disease ; and cruel treatment 126 



Abstract of Evidence continued. Slavery in the West Indies from 1750 to 1790. 
General estimation and treatment of the Slaves. Labor of Plantation Slaves 
their days of rest, food, clothing, property. Ordinary punishment by the whip 
and cowskin. Frequency and severity of these Punishments. Extraordinary 
Punishments of various kinds, for nominal offenses. Capital offenses and Pun 
ishments. Slaves turned off to steal, beg, or starve, when incapable of labor. 
Slaves had little or no redress against ill usage 143 


Period from 1660 to 1760 ; Godwin, Richard Baxter, Atkins, Hughes, Bishop War- 


burton. Planters accustomed to take their Slaves to England, and to carry them 
back into slavery by force. Important case of James Somerset decided, 1772. 
John Wesley. Motion in House of Commons against Slave-Trade, 1776. Case of 
ship Zong. Bridgwater Petitions. The Quakers in England oppose Slavery. 
Resolutions of the Quakers, from 1727 '* 1760. They Petition House of Com 
mons. First Society formed, 1783. Thu Quakers and others in America. Ac- 
tidn of the Quakers of Pennsylvania from 1*588 to 1788. Benezet writes tracts 
against Slavery. His letter to the Queen. - Sentiment in America favorable to 
Africans, 1772. House of Burgesses of Viigi. ia addresses the King. Original 
draft of Declaration of Independence. First, Society f ormed in America " for Pro 
moting Abolition of Slavery," 1774. Opposition to the Slave-Trade in America.. 158 



Thomas Clarkson, the historian of the Abolition of the Slave-Trade. Devotes his 
life to the cause, 1785. Publishes his Essay on Slavery. His coadjutors. Wil 
liam Wilberforce, parliamentary leader in the cause. Middleton, Dr. Porteus, 
Lord Scarsdale, Granville Sharp. Clarkson's first visit to a slave-ship. Associa 
tion formed Correspondence opened in Europe and America. Petitions sent to 
Parliament. Committee of Privy Council ordered by the King, 17S8. Great ex 
ertions of the friends of the cause. Clarkson's interview with Pitt 179 



Mr. Pitt introduces the subject of the Abolition of the Slave-Trade into the House 
of Commons, May 9, 1788. Speech of Mr. Pitt on the occasion. Parliamentary 
action in 1789. Debate of 12th of May. Speech of William Wilberforce. Trav 
els and exertions of Clarkson. Sessions of 1791 and 1792. Debates in the Com 
mons. Speeches of Wilberforce, Pitt, Fox, Bailie, Thornton, Whitbread, Duudas, 
and Jenkinson. Gradual abolition agreed upon by House of Commons 188 



Action of the House of Lords in 1792. Clarkson retires from the field from ill 
health, in 1794. Mr. Wilberforce's annual motion. Session of 1799. Speech of 
Canning. Sessions of 1804 and 1805. Clarkson resumes his labors. Death of 
Mr. Pitt, January, 1806. Administration of Granville and Fox. Session of 1806. 
Debate in the House of Lords. Speeches of Lord Granville, Erskine, Dr. Por 
teus, Earls Stanhope and Spencer, Lords Holland and Ellenborough. Death of Fox, 
October, 1806. Contest and triumph in 1807. Final passage of the Bill for the 
Abolition of the African Slavo-Trade. Slave-trade declared felony in 1811, and 
declared piracy in 1824, by England. England abolishes slavery in her colonies, 
1833. Prohibition of Slave-Trade by European governments. Slavery abolished 
in Mexico, 1829 In Guatemala and Colombia 237 



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Discovery and settlement of the island by the Spaniards. The natives reduced to 
slavery. Cruelty of the Spaniards towards them. Great mortality in conse 
quence. Their numbers replenished from the Bahamas. The Dominicans be 
come interested for them. Las Casas appeals to Cardinal Ximenes, who sends 
commissioners. They set the natives at liberty. The colonists remonstrate 
against the measure, and the Indians again reduced to slavery. Las Casas seeks 
a remedy. The Emperor allows the introduction of Africans. Guinea slave- 
trade established. The buccaneers. The French Colony. Its condition in 1789. 
Enormous slave-population. The Mulattoes. The French Revolution its ef 
fect on the Colonists. First Insurrection. Terrible execution of the leaders. 
Second Insurrection massacre and conflagration unparalleled horrors. Burn- 

ing of Port-au-Prince. L'Ouverture appears, the spirit and ruler of the storm. 
French expedition of 25,000 men sent to suppress the Insurrection Toussaint 
sent prisoner to France dies in prison. The slaves establish their freedom. In 
dependence of Hayti acknowledged by France 252 



State of the slave-trade since its nominal abolition. Numbers imported and losses 
on the passage. Increased horrors of the trade. Scenes on board a captured 
slaver in Sierra Leone. The Progresso. Walsh's description of a slaver in 1829. 
The trade in 1820. The slave-trade in Cuba officers of government interested 
in it. Efforts of Spain insincere. Slave barracoons near Governor's palace con 
duct of the inmates. The Bozals. Bryan Edwards' description of natives of Gold 
Coast their courage and endurance. Number of slaves landed at Rio in 1838 
barracoons at Rio government tax. Slave-trade Insurance Courts of Mixed 
Commission their proceedings at Sierra Leone in 1838. Joint stock slave-trade 
companies at Rio. The Cruisers intercepted letters. Mortality of the trade. 
Abuses of the American flag. Consul Trist and British commissioners. Corre 
spondence of American Ministers to Brazil, Mr. Todd, Mr. Proffit, Mr. Wise. Ex 
tracts from Parliamentary papers. Full list of Conventions and Treaties made by 

England for suppression of Slave-trade 280 




Treaty between England and the United States, signed at Washington in 1842. U. 
S. African Squadron under the treaty. The Truxton captures au American slaver, 
tlie Spitfire, of New Orleans. The Yorktown captures the Am. bark Pons, with 
896 slaves on board. Commander Bell's description of the sufferings of the slaves 
they are landed at Monrovia and taken care of. Squadron of 11846. Capture 
of the Chancellor. Slave establishment destroyed by the English and natives. 
A slaver's history embarkation and treatment of slaves. How disposed of in 
Cuba. Natural scenery of Africa. Excursion to procure slaves their horror at 
the prospect of slavery. Passage from Mozambique the small-pox on toard. 
More horrors of the Middle Passage. The Estrella revolt of negroes on board. . 303 



Tho American Squadrons from Ib47 to 1851. More captures. U. S. brig Ferry 
cruises off the southern coast. Capture of a slaver -with 800 slaves, by an Eng 
lish cruiser. Abiises of the American flag. The Lucy Ann captured. Case of 
the Navarre. Capture by the Perry of the Martha of New York her condemna 
tion. Case of the Chatsworth of the Louisa Beaton. The Chatsworth seized 
and sent to Baltimore is condemned as a slaver. State of the slave-trade on the 
southern coast. Importance of tHe squadron. The Brazilian slave-trade dimin 
ish 63 -'wTtr 'frm-:** "* > .7 ;riv ' * ;,'/ v j; 4*" ;; 344 


' , ' , * 


Colony of Sierra Leone founded by the English, 1787. Free negroes colonized. 
Present extent and condition of the colony. Establishment of English factories 
on the slave coast. Treaties with the African chiefs. Scheme of African Coloniza 
tion agitated in 1783 by Jefferson and others. Movements in Va., in 1800 and 
1805. Formation of the American Colonization Society in 1816. Its object "to. 
colonize the free people of color." Cape Mesurado purchased and colonized in 
1821. Defense of the infant settlement from an attack by the natives. Mortality 
among the early settlers. Increase of the colony in 1835. State colonization 
societies establish settlements. Consolidation of the state colonies, and estab 
lishment of the Commonwealth. Governor Buchanan's efforts to suppress the 
slave-trade. His death, 1841. Republic of Liberia established in 1847. Joseph 
J. Roberts ("colored} first President. Its independence acknowledged by European 
powers. The Republic attacks the slave establishments. Natural resources of 
Liberia its climate, soil, productions, exports, schools, churches, &c. Settle 
ments and population. The Maryland settlement at Cape Palmas 358 



Early existence of Slavery in England. Its forms. The Feudal System. Serf 
dom. Its extinction. African Slavery introduced into the North American Colo 
nies, 1620. Slavery in Virginia. Massachusetts sanctions Negro and Indian 
slavery, 1641: Kidnapping declared unlawful, 1645. Negro and Indian slavery 
authorized in Connecticut, 1650. Decree against perpetual slavery in Rhode Isl 
and, 1652. Slavery in New Netherland among the Dutch, 1650 Its mild form. 
First slavery statute of Virginia, 1662. In Maryland, 1663, against amalgama 
tion. Statute of Virginia, conversion and baptism not to confer freedom; other 
provisions, 1667. Maryland encourages slave-trade. Slave code of Virginia, 
1682, fugitives may be killed. New anti-amalgamation act of Maryland, 1681. Set 
tlement of South Carolina, 1660. Absolute power conferred on masters. Law of 
Slavery in New York, 1665. Slave code of Virginia, 1692: offenses of slaves, 
how punishable. Revision of Virginia code, 1705: slaves made real estate. 
Pennsylvania protests against importation of Indian slaves from Carolina, 1705. 
New act of 1712 to stop importation of negroes and slaves, prohibition duty of 
20. Act repealed by Queen. First slave law of Carolina, 1712. Its remarka- 


ble provisions. Census of 1715. Maryland code of 1715 baptism not to confer 
freedom. Georgia colonized, 1732 : rum and slavery prohibited. Cruel delusion 
in New York: plot falsely imputed to negroes to burn the city, 1741. Slavery 
legalized in Georgia, 1750. Review of the state of Slavery in all the colonies in 
1750. Period of the Revolution. Controversy in Massachusetts on the subject 
of slavery, 1766 to 1773. Slaves gain their freedom in the courts of Massachu 
setts. Court of King's Bench decision. Mansfield declares the law of England, 
1772. Continental Congress declares against African slave-trade, 1784 369 



Number of Slaves in the United States at the period of the declaration of Independ 
ence. Proportion in each of the thirteen States. Declaration against slavery in 
the State Constitution of Delaware. Constitutions of Massachusetts and New 
Hampshire held to prohibit slavery, by Supreme Courts, 1783. Act of Pennsyl 
vania Assembly, 1780, forbids introduction of slaves, and gives freedom to all 
persons thereafter born in that State. A similar law enacted in Connecticut and 
Rhode Island, 1784. Virginia Assembly prohibits further introduction of slaves, 
1778, and emancipation encouraged, 1782. Maryland enacts similar laws, 1783. 
Opinions of Washington, Jefferson, and Patrick Henry. New York and New Jer 
sey prohibit further introduction of slaves. North Carolina declares further in 
troduction of slaves highly impolitic, 1786. Example of other States not followed 
by Georgia and South Carolina. Action of Congress on the subject of the Terri 
tories, 1784. Jefferson's provision excluding slavery, struck out of ordinance. 
Proceedings of 1787. Ordinance for the government of the territory north-wet 
of the Ohio, including Jefferson's provision prohibiting slavery, passed by uu-m> 
mous vote * 389 



Convention assembles at Philadelphia, 1787. Proceedings in reference to the slav# 
basis of representation, the second compromise of the Constitution. Debate. 
Remarks of Patterson, Wilson, King, Gouverneur Morris, and Sherman. Debate 
on the Importation of slaves, by Rutledge, Ellsworth, Sherman, C. Pinckney. 
Denunciation of slavery by Mason of Virginia. The third Compromise, the con 
tinuance of the African slave-trade for twenty years, and the unrestricted power 
of Congress to enact Navigation laws 393 



First session of First Congress, 1789. Tariff bill dutv'mposed on imported slaves. 
The Debate views of Roger Sherman, Fisher LjU es, Madison, &c. Review of 
the state of slavery in the States in 1790 - Second session. Petitions from the 
Quakers of Pennsylvania, Deleware and New York. Petition of Pennsylvania 
Society, signed by Franklin. E--- .iiing debate power of Congress over slavery. 
Census of 1790. Slave p^alation. Vermont the first State to abolish and pro- 


hibit slavery. Constitution of Kentucky provisions in respect to slavery. Ses 
sion of 1791. Memorials for suppression of slave-trade, from Virginia, Maryland, 
New York, &c. The Right of Petition discussed. First fugitive slave law, 1793. 
First law to suppress African Slave Trade, 1794. The Quakers again, 1797 their 
emancipated slaves reduced again to slavery, under expost facto law of North 
Carolina. Mississippi territory slavery clause debated. Foreign slaves prohi 
bited. Constitution of Georgia importation of slaves prohibited, 1798 provi 
sions against cruelty to slaves. New York provides for gradual extinguishment 
of slavery, 1799. Failure of similar attempt in Kentucky. Colored citizens of 
Pennsylvania petition Congress against Fugitive Slave law and slave-trade their 
petition referred to a committee ; bill reported and passed, 1800 403 



Slave population in 1800. Georgia cedes territory slavery clause. Territory of 
Indiana attempt to introduce Slavery in 1803 Petition Congress Com. of H. R. 
report against it. Session of 1804, committee report in favor of it, limited to ten 
years. No action on report. Foreign slave-trade prohibited with Orleans Terri 
tory, 1804. South Carolina revives slave-trade ; the subject before Congress. 
New Jersey provides for gradual extinction of slavery, 1804. Attempt to gradu 
ally abolish slavery in District of Columbia, unsuccessful in Congress. Renewed 
attempt to introduce slavery into Territory of Indiana, 1806, unsuccessful. Leg 
islature of Territory in favor of it, 1807 Congressional committee report against 
it. Jefferson's Message recommendation to abolish African slave-trade the 
siibject before Congress bill reported the debate Speeches of members Act 
passed 1807, its provisions 430 



Slave population in 1810. Period of the war. John Randolph's denunciations. 
Proclamation of Admiral Cochrane to the slaves. Treaty of Peace arbitration 
on slave property. Opinions of the'domestic slave-trade by southern statesmen. 
Constitution of Mississippi slave provisions. The African slave-trade and 
fugitive law. Missouri applies for admission proviso to prohibit slavery. De 
bate speeches of Fuller, Tallniadge, Scott, Cobb, and Livermore. Proceedings, 
1820. Bill for organizing Arkansas Territory proviso to prohibit slavery lost. 
Excitement in the North. Public meetings. Massachusetts memorial. Resolu 
tions of state legislatures of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, 
and Kentucky. Congress the Missouri struggle renewed. The compromise. 
Proviso to exclude slavery in territory north of 36 30' carried. Proviso to pro 
hibit slavery in Missouri lost. Opinions of Monroe's cabinet. Reflections of J. Q. 
Adams. State Constitution of Missouri final struggle. Missouri admitted as a 
slave state 447 


Ctnisus of 1820. Session of 1824-5. Gov. Troup's demonstrations. Georgia legis- 


lature Secession threatened. Slaves in Canada their surrender refused by Eng 
land. Citizens of District of Columbia petition for gradual abolition. Census of 
1830 Anti-slavery societies formed in the north counter movements north and 
south. The mail troubles. Manifesto of American Anti-slavery Society. Peti 
tions to congress Discussion on the disposal of them. Bill to prohibit the circu 
lation of Anti-slavery publications through the mails. Calhoun's report Meas 
ure opposed by Webster, Clay, Benton, and others. Buchanan, Tallniadge, &c., 
favor it Bill lost. Atherton's gag resolutions passed i . . . 498 



Free territory annexed to Missouri, 1836. Texas applies for annexation. Remon 
strances. Preston's resolution in^lSSS, in favor of it, debated by Preston, John 
Quincy Adams and Henry A. Wise. The Amistad Captives liberated. Census 
of 1840. Session of 1841-2. Mr. Adams presents petition for dissolution of the 
Union. Excitement in the house. Resolutions of censure, advocated by Mar 
shall. Remarks of Mr. Wise and Mr. Adams. Resolutions opposed by Under 
wood, of Kentucky, Botts, of Virginia, Arnold, of Tennessee, and others. Mr. 
(Biddings, of Ohio, presents a petition for amicable division of the Union resolu 
tion of censure not received. Case of the Creole. Censure of Mr. Giddings ; he 
resigns, is re-elected 511 



. t ;.,. . V, ' , . 

Object of the acquisition set forth by Mississippi, Alabama and. Tennessee legisla 
tures, and by Mr. Wise and Mr. Gilnier, 1842. Tyler's treaty of annexation re 
jected by the senate. Presidential campaign of 1844. Clay and Van Buren on 
annexation. Calhoun's Letter. Session of 1844-5 ; joint resolution passed, and 
approved March 1, 1845. -Mexican minister protests. War with Mexico. The 
$2,000,000 bill. Wilmot Proviso. Session of 1847-8. Bill to organize Oregon 
territory. Power of Congress over slavery in the territories discussed, Dix and 
Calhoun. Mr. Calhoun controverts the doctrines of the Declaration of Indepen 
dence. Cass' Nicholson letter 531 



Message of President Taylor Sam. Houston's propositions Taylor's Special Message. 
Mr. Clay's propositions for arrangement of slavery controversy. His resolutions. 
Resolutions of Mr. Bell. The debate on Clay's resolutions, by Rusk, Foote, of Mis 
sissippi, Mason, Jefferson Davis, King, Clay, and Butler. Remarks of Benton, 
Calhoun, Webster, Seward, and Cass. Resolutions referred. Repoit of Com 
mittee. The omnibus bill. California admitted. New Mexico organized. Tex 
as boundary established. Utah organized. Slave-trade in the District of Co 
lumbia abolished. Fugitive Slave law passed 563 


. r. , 



The platforms, slavery agitation repudiated by both parties. Mr. Pierce's Inaugu 
ral and Message denounce agitation. Session of 1853-4 : the storm bursts 
forth. Proposition to repeal the Missouri Compromise. Kansas-Nebraska bill. 
Mr. Douglas' defense of the bill Mr. Chase's reply Remarks of Houston, Cass, 
Seward, and others. Passage of the bill in the house. Passed by senate, and 
approved. The territories organized ............ . ............................. 60S 


Session of 1855-6. The President's special message referred. Report of committee 
by Mr. Douglas. Emigrant Aid Societies. Minority report by Mr. Collamer. 
Special Committee of the House sent to Kansas to investigate affairs. Report of 
the Committee. Armed Missourians enter the territory and control the elections. 

Second foray of armed Missourians. Purposes of Aid Societies defended. Mob 
violence. Legislature assembles at Pawnee. Its acts. Topeka Constitutional 
Convention.- -Free State Constitution framed. Adopted by the people. Election 
for State officers. Topeka legislature. The Wakarusa war. Outrages upon the 
citizens. Robberies and murders. Lawrence attacked. Free state constitution 
submitted to Congress. Bill to admit Kansas under free state constitution passes 
the house. Douglas' bill before the senate. Trumbull's propositions rejected. 
Amendments proposed by Foster, Collamer, Wilson and Seward, rejected. Bill 
passed by senate. Dunn's bill passed by house. Appropriation bills. Proviso 
to armv MU. Session terminates. Extra session. President stands firm, house 
firmer, **n<Ue firmest. The army bill passed without the proviso .............. 643 



Judge Lpcompte's charge to Grand Jury Presentments. Official correspondence. 

Attack on Lawrence. Free State bands organized attack pro-slavery set 
tlements. Fights at Palmyra, Franklin, and Ossawattamie. Murders. Shannon 
removed, Atchison's army retreat. Geary appointed governor. Deplorable 
condition of the territory. Letter to Secretary Marcy.-*-Iuaugural address and pro 
clamations. Atchison's call upon the South. Woodson's proclamation. Armed 
bands enter the territory. Lawrence doomed to destruction. Gov. Geary's deci 
sive measures. Army dispersed and Lawrence saved. Hickory Point capture 
of Free State company. Dispatch to Secretary Marcy.: Murder of Buffum. 
Geary and Lecompte in collision. Official documents. The Judiciary. Rumors 
of Lane's army. Redpath's company captured released by governor. Capture 
of Eldridge's company. Official correspondence. Assembling of Topeka legisla 
ture Members arrested. Territorial Legislative Assembly convened. Inaugural 

Vetoes of the governor. The " Census Bill" its provisions for forming State 
Constitution. Constitution not to be submitted to the people. Gov. Geary's prop 
osition rejected. He vetoes the bill Bill passed. Disturbances in the capital. 
Geary's requisition for U. S. troops refused. His application for money refused. 

Difficulties of his situation he resigns his farewell address. Robert J. 


Walker appointed his successor. Secretary Stanton. Fraudulent apportion 
ment. Walker's Inaugural his recommendation to have Constitution submitted 
to the people. This measure denounced at the South. Convention assembles 
September, 1857. Adjourns to October 26th, 1857 719 



TERRITORY Area of Free States ; area of Slave States. POPULATION Free colored in 
Free States ; Free colored in Slave States ; Slaves. Amalgamation ; Mulattoes of 
Free States; Mulattoes of Slave States ; Proportion to Whites. Manumitted Slaves ; 
Fugitive Slaves ; Occupation of Slaves ; Number of Slave Holders ; Proportion to 
Non-Slave Holders. REPRESENTATION Number of Representatives from Slave 
States. Number of Representatives from Free States ; Basis in numbers and 
classes. MORAL AND SOCIAL Churches, Church Property, Colleges, Public Schools, 
Private Schools ; Number of Pupils ; Annual Expenditure ; Persons who cannot 
read and write ; Lands appropriated by General Government for Education ; Peri 
odical Press ; Libraries. CHARITIES Pauperism in Free States ; in Slave States. 
CRIMINALS Number of Prisoners. AGRICULTURE Value of Farms and Imple 
ments in Free and Slave States. MANUFACTURES, MINING, MECHANIC ARTS Cap 
ital invested ; Annual Product. RAIL ROADS AND CANALS Number of Miles ; 
Cost. TOTAL REAL ANP PERSONAL ESTATE. Value of Real Estate in Free States ; 
in Slave States; value of Personal in Free States; in Slave States, including 
and excluding Slaves. Miscellaneous 809 

APPENDIX Dred Scott decision -. 807 


THIS book is intended for general reading, and may also serve as a book of 
reference. It is an attempt to compile and present in one volume the histori 
cal records of slavery in ancient and modern times the laws of Greece and 
Rome and the legislation of England and America upon the subject and to 
exhibit some of its effects upon the destinies of nations. It is compiled from 
what are conceded to be authentic and reliable books, documents, and records. 
In looking up material for that portion of the book which treats of slavery in 
the nations of antiquity, the compiler found small encouragement among the 
historians. " There is no class so abject and despised upon which the fate of 
nations may not sometimes turn ;" and it is strange that a system which per 
vaded and weakened, if it did not ruin, the republics of Greece and the empire 
of the Caesars, should not be more frequently noticed by historical writers. 
They refer, only incidentally, to the existence of slavery. An insurrection or 
other remarkable event with which the slaves are connected, occasionally re 
minds the reader of history of the existence of a servile class. The historian 
of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire devotes but two pages to what 
he describes as "that unhappy condition of men who existed in every province 
and every family, exposed to the wanton rigor of despotism, "and who, accord 
ing to his own account, numbered, in the age of the Antonines, sixty millions ! 
Yet " slavery was the chief and most direct cause of the ruin of the Roman 
Empire," if we may credit the assertions made in the legislature of Virginia 
shortly after an insurrection in that state. How few of the historians of Eng 
land refer to the existence in that country of a system of unmitigated, hope 
less, hereditary slavery. Yet it prevailed throughout England in Saxon and 
Norman times. In the time of the Heptarchy, slaves were an article of ex 
port. " Great numbers were exported, like cattle, from the British coasts." 
The Roman market was partially supplied with slaves from the shores of Brit 
ain. Pope Gregory the Great, struck with the blooming complexions and fair 
hair of some Saxon children in the slave market, sent over St. Augustine from 
Rome to convert the islanders to Christianity. In the time of Alfred, slaves 
were so numerous that their sale was regulated by law. As a general thing, 
however, feudalism strangled the old forms of slavery, and both disappeared 
in England in the advancing light of Christianity. The historians of the 
United States, also, with the exception of Hildreth, seldom refer to the sub 
ject of slavery. They perhaps imagine that they descend below the dignity 
of history if they treat of any thing but " battles and seiges, and the rise and 
fall of administrations." Yet the printed annals of congress, from the foun 
dation of the government to the present time, are filled with controversies upon 


the ever prominent " slavery question "; and every important measure seems 
to have had a " slavery issue " involved in it. 

Meantime, and while awaiting the advent of a regular " philosophical " 
historian of slavery, we present an imperfect, but, we trust, useful compilation. 
The greater part of the volume is devoted to the Political History of Slavery 
in the United States. The legislation of congress upon subjects embracing 
questions of slavery extension or prohibition, has been faithfully rendered 
from the record ; and the arguments used on both sides of controverted ques 
tions have been impartially presented. The parliamentary history of the 
abolition of the African slave-trade has been made to occupy considerable 
space, chiefly in order to lay before the reader the views upon the subject of 
slavery entertained by that class of unrivaled statesmen which embraced the 
names of Pitt, Fox, Burke, and others not unknown to fame. TJie history 
of the legislation of our own country upon subjects in which slavery issues 
were involved, will also bring before the reader another array of eminent 
statesmen, with whose familiar names he is accustomed to associate the idea 
of intellectual power. Chapters upon slavery in Greece and Rome have 
been introduced into the boolk, as various opinions seem to prevail in regard 
to the forms, features, laws, extent and effects of ancient slavery. Some point 
with exultation to the prosperity of imperial Rome with her millions of slaves; 
others with equal exultation point to her decay as the work of the avenging 
spirit of slavery. Others, again, contend that slavery was confined to but a 
small portion of the empire, and had small effect upon its prosperity or ad 

To gratify a class of readers to whom the relation of exciting incidents is 
of more interest than the details of legislative action, we have devoted a space 
to the abominations of the old legalized slave traffic, and to the increased hor 
rors of the trade after it had been declared piracy by Christian nations. It is 
a fearful chapter of wrong, violence and crime. 

"According to an enlightened philosophy," we quote from the Conversations 
Lexicon, " each human being retains inherently the right to his own person, 
and can neither sell himself, nor be legally bound by any act of aggression on 
his natural liberty. Slavery, therefore, can never be a legal relation. It rests 
entirely on force. The slave being treated as property, and not allowed legal 
rights, cannot be under legal obligations. Slavery is also inconsistent with the 
moral nature of man. Each man has an individual worth, significance, and 
responsibility; is bound to the work of self-improvement, and to labor in a 
sphere for which his capacity is adapted. To give up this individual liberty 
is to disqualify himself for fulfilling the great objects of his being. Hence, 
political societies which have made a considerable degree of advancement do 
not allow any one to resign his liberty any more than his life, to the pleasure 
of another. In fact, the great object of political institutions in civilized na 
tions is to enable man to fulfill most perfectly the ends of his individual be 
ing. Christianity, moreover, lays down the doctrine of doing as we would be 
done by, as one of its fundamental maxims, which is wholly opposed to the 
idea of one man becoming the property of another. These two principles of 
mutual obligation, and the worth of the individual, were beyond the compre 
hension of the states of antiquity, but are now at the basis of morals, politics, 
and religion." 




Early existence of Slavery in the world. The Mosaic institutions in regard to Slavery. 
Hebrews, how reduced to servitude. The Jubilee. Distinction between native and for 
eign Slaves. Voluntary Slaves : the Mercenarii of the Romans ; the Prodigals or debtor 
Slaves ; the Delinquents ; the Enthusiasts. Involuntary Slaves : prisoners of war, an<t 
captives stolen in peace, with the children and descendants of both. Voluntary 
Slavery introduced by decree of the Roman Senate. Slavery in Rome : condition of 
the Slaves ; cruelty to the old and sick ; prisons for Slaves ; Sicily : servile war and 
breaking up of the prisons. Piracy esteemed honorable by the early Greeks. Pirati 
cal expeditions to procure Slaves. Causes of the gradual extinction of Slavery in 
Europe. Origin of the African Slave Trade by the Portuguese. Followed by most of 
the maritime nations of Europe. 


T is certainly a curious fact, that so far as we can trace back the history of 
the human race, we discover the existence of Slavery. One of the most obvi 
ous causes of this, is to be found in the almost incessant wars which were car 
ried on in the early periods of the world, between tribes and nations, in which 
the prisoners taken were either slain or reduced to slavery. 

The Mosaic institutions were rather predicated upon the previous existence 
of slavery in the surrounding nations, than designed to establish it for the first 
time ; and the provisions of the Jewish law upon this subject, effected changes 
and modifications which must hare improved the condition of slaves among 
that peculiar people. There were various modes by which the Hebrews might 
be reduced to servitude. A poor man might sell himself ; a father might sell 
his children ; debtors might be delivered as slaves to their creditors ; thieves, 
who were unable to make restitution for the property stolen, were sold for the 
benefit of the sufferers. Prisoners of war were subjected to servitude ; and if 
a Hebrew captive was redeemed by another Hebrew from a Gentile, he might 
be sold by his deliverer to another Israelite. At the return of the year of 
jubilee all Jewish captives were set free. However, by some writers it i.s 
stated that this did not apply to foreign slaves held in bondage ; as over these 
the master had entire control. He might sell them, judge them, and even pun 
ish them capitally without any form of legal process. The law of Moses pro 
vides that "if a man smite his servant or his maid with a rod, and he die under 


his hand, he shall be surely punished ; notwithstanding if he continue a day 01 
two he shall not be punished, for he is his money." This restriction is said, by 
some, to have applied only to Hebrew slaves, and not to foreign captives who 
were owned by Jews. In general, if any one purchased a Hebrew slave, he 
could hold him only six years. Among other provisions, the Mosaic laws 
declared the terms upon which a Hebrew, who had been sold, could redeem 
himself, or be redeemed by his friends, and his right to take with him his wife 
and children, when discharged from bondage. 

Among those who were denominated slaves in the more lax or general use 
of the term, we may reckon those who were distinguished among the Romans 
by the appellation of " mercenarii," so called from the circumstances of their hire. 
These were free-born citizens, who, from the various contingencies of fortune, 
were under the necessity of recurring for support to the service of the rich. A 
contract subsisted between the parties, and most of the dependents had the 
right to demand and obtain their discharge, if they were ill-used by their mas 
ters. Among the ancients there was another class of servants, which consisted 
wholly of those who had suffered the loss of libeity from their own imprudence. 
Such were the Grecian prodigals, who were detained in the service of their 
creditors, until the fruits of their labor were equivalent to their debts ; the 
delinquents, who were sentenced to the oar ; and the German enthusiasts, 
mentioned by Tacitus, who were so addicted to gaming, that when they had 
parted with every thing else, they staked their liberty and their persons. "The 
loser," says the historian, " goes into a voluntary servitude ; and though younger 
and stronger than the person with whom he played, patiently suifers himself to 
be bound and sold. Their perseverance in so bad a custom is styled honor. 
The slaves thus obtained are immediately exchanged away in commerce, that 
the winner may get rid of the scandal of his victory." The two classes now 
enumerated comprehend those that may be called the Yoluntary Slaves, and 
they are distinguished from those denominated Involuntary Slaves, who were 
forced, without any previous condition or choice, into a situation, which, as it 
tended to degrade a part of the human species, and to class it with the brutal, 
must have been, of all situations, the most wretched and insupportable. The 
class of involuntary slaves included those who were "prisoners of war," and 
these were more ancient than the voluntary slaves, who are first mentioned in 
the time of Pharaoh. The practice of reducing prisoners of war to the condi 
tion of slaves existed both among the eastern nations and the people of the 
west ; for as the Helots became the slaves of the Spartans merely from the 
right of conquest, so prisoners of war were reduced to the same situation by 
the other inhabitants of Greece. The Romans, also, were actuated by the same 
principle ; and all those nations which contributed to overturn the empire : 
adopted a similar custom ; so that it was a general maxim in their polity 
that those who fell under their power as prisoners of war, should immediately 
be reduced to the condition of slaves. The slaves of the Greeks were gener 
ally barbarians, and imported from foreign countries. 


" By the civil law the power of making slaves is esteemed a right of nations, 
and follows, as a natural consequence of captivity in war." This is the first 
origin of the right of slavery assigned by Justinian. The conqueror, say the 
civilians, had the right to the life of his captive ; and having spared that, has 
the right to deal with him as he pleases. This position, taken generally, is 
denied by Blackstone, who observes that a man has a right to kill his enemy, 
only in cases of absolute necessity for self-defense ; and it is plain this absolute 
necessity did not exist, since the victior did not kill him, but made him prison 
er. Since, therefore, the right of making slaves by captivity depends on a 
supposed right of slaughter, that foundation failing, the consequence drawn 
from it must fail likewise. Farther, it is said, slavery may begin "jure civili," 
when one man sells himself to another ; but this, when applied to strict slavery, 
in the sense of the laws of old Rome or modern Barbary, is also impossible. 
Every sale implies a price, an equivalent given to the seller in lieu of what he 
transfers to the buyer; but what equivalent can be given for life and liberty, 
both of which, in absolute slavery, are held to be at the master's disposal ? 
His property, also, the very price he seems to receive, devolves to his master 
the instant he becomes his slave : and besides, if it be not lawful for a man to 
kill himself, because he robs his country of his person, for the same reason he 
is not allowed to barter his freedom; the freedom of every citizen constitutes 
a part of the public liberty. In this case, therefore, the buyer gives nothing, 
and the seller receives nothing ; of what validity, then, can a sale be, which 
destroys the very principle upon which all sales are founded ? Lastly, we are 
told, that besides these two ways, by which slaves may be acquired, they may 
also be hereditary ; the children of acquired slaves being, by a negative kind 
of birthright, slaves also ; but this being founded on the two former rights, 
must fall together with them. If neither captivity, nor the sale of one's self, 
can, by the law of nature and reason, reduce the parent to slavery, much less 
can they reduce the offspring.* 

Voluntary slavery was first introduced in Rome by a decree of the senate in 
the time of the emperor Claudius, and at length was abrogated by Leo. The 
Romans had the power of life and death over their slaves ; which no other 
nations had. This severity was afterwards modified by the laws of the emper 
ors ; and by one of Adrian it was made capital to kill a slave without a cause. 
The slaves were esteemed the proper goods of their masters, and all they got 
belonged to them ; but if the master was too cruel in his domestic corrections, 
he was obliged to sell his slave at a moderate price. The custom of exposing 
old, useless or sick slaves, in an island of the Tiber, there to starve, seems to 
have been very common in Rome ; and whoever recovered, after having been 
so exposed, had his liberty given him, by an edict of the emperor Claudius, in 
which it was likewise forbidden to kill any slave merely for old age or sickness. 
Nevertheless, it was a professed maxim of the elder Cato, to sell his superannu- 

* Blackstone's Com. : Montesquieu's Spirit of Laws. 


ated slaves at aiiy price, rather than maintain what he deemed a useless burden. 
The dungeons, where slaves in chains were forced to work, were common all 
over Italy. Columella advises that they be built under ground ; and recom 
mends the duty of having a careful overseer to call over the names of the 
slaves, in order to know when any of them had deserted. Sicily was full of 
these dungeons, and the soil was cultivated by laborers in chains. Eunus and 
Athenio excited the servile war, by breaking up these monstrous prisons, and 
giving liberty to 60,000 slaves. 

In the ancient and uncivilized ages of the world, " Piracy " was regarded as 
an honorable profession ; and this was supposed to give a right of making 
slaves. " The Grecians," says Thucydides, " in their primitive state, as well as 
the cotemporary barbarians who inhabited the sea coast and islands, addicted 
themselves wholly to it; it was, in short, their only profession and support." 
The writings of Homer establish this account, as they show that this was a 
common practice at so early a period as that of the Trojan war. The reputa 
tion which piracy seems to have acquired among the ancients, was owing to the 
skill, strength, agility and valor which were necessary for conducting it with 
success ; and these erroneous notions led to other consequences immediately 
connected with the slavery of the human species. Avarice and ambition 
availed themselves of these mistaken notions ; and people were robbed, stolen, 
and even murdered, under the pretended idea that these were reputable adven 
tures. But in proportion as men's sentiments and manners became more refined, 
the practice of piracy lost its reputation, and began gradually to disappear. 
The practice, however, was found to be lucrative ; and it was continued with a 
view to the emolument attending it, long after it ceased to be thought honora- 
able, and when it was sinking into disgrace. The profits arising from the sale 
of slaves presented a temptation which avarice could not resist ; many were 
stolen by their own countrymen and sold for slaves ; and merchants traded on 
the different coasts in order to facilitate the disposal of this article of com 
merce. The merchants of Thessaly, according to Aristophanes, who never 
spared the vices of the times, were particularly infamous for this latter kind 
of depredation ; the Athenians were notorious for the former ; for they had 
practiced these robberies to such an extent, that it was found necessary to enact 
a law to punish kidnappers with death. 

From the above statement it appears that there were among the ancients two 
classes of involuntary slaves : captives taken in war, and those who were 
privately stolen in peace ; to which might be added, a third class, comprehend 
ing the children and descendants of the two former. 

The condition of slaves and their personal treatment were sufficiently 
humiliating and grievous, and may well excite our pity and abhorrence. They 
were beaten, starved, tortured, and murdered at discretion ; they were dead in 
a civil sense ; they had neither name nor tribe ; they were incapable of judicial 
process ; and they were, in short, without appeal. To this cruel treatment, 
however, there were some exceptions. The Egyptian slave, though perhaps a 


greater drudge than any other, yet if he had time to reach the temple of Her 
cules found a certain retreat from the persecution of his master ; and he derived 
additional comfort from the reflection that his life could not be taken with im 
punity.* But no place seems to have been so favorable to slaves as Athens. 
Here they were allowed a greater liberty of speech; they had their convivial 
meetings, their amours, their hours of relaxation, pleasantry and mirth ; and 
here, if persecution exceeded the bounds of lenity, they had their temple, like 
the Egyptians, for refuge. The legislature were so attentive as to examine 
into their complaints, and if founded in justice, they were ordered to be sold to 
another master. They were allowed an opportunity of working for themselves ; 
and if they earned the price of their ransom, they could demand their freedom 

To the honor of Athens and Egypt, and the cities of the Jews, their slaves 
were considered with some humanity. The inhabitants of other parts of the 
world seemed to vie with each other in the oppression and debasement of this 
unfortunate class. 

A modern writer, to whom the cause of humanity is under inexpressible 
obligations, proceeds to inquire by what circumstances the barbarous and in 
human treatment of slaves were produced. The first of these circumstances 
which he mentions, was "commerce;" for if men could be considered as 
possessions, if like cattle they might be bought and sold, it will be natural to 
suppose that they would be regarded and treated in the same manner. This 
kind of commerce, which began in the primitive ages of the world, depressed 
the human species in the general estimation ; and they were tamed like brutes 
by hunger and the lash, and the treatment of them so conducted as to render 
them docile instruments of labor for their possessors. This degradation of 
course depressed their minds ; restricted the expansion of their faculties ; stifled 
almost every effort of genius, and exhibited them to the world as beings endued 
with inferior capacities to the rest of mankind. But for this opinion of them 
there seems to have been no foundation in truth and justice. Equal to their 
fellow men in natural talents, and alike capable of improvement, any apparent, 
or even real difference between them and others, must have been owing to the 
treatment they received, and the rank they were doomed to occupy. 

This commerce of the human species commenced at an early period. The 
history of Joseph points to a remote era for its introduction. Egypt seems to 
have been, at this time, the principal market for the sale of human beings. 
It was indeed so famous as to have been known, within a few centuries from 
the time of Pharaoh, to the Grecian colonies in Asia and to the Grecian islands. 
Homer mentions Cyprus and Egypt as the common markets for slaves, about 
the time of the Trojan war. Egypt is represented in the book of Genesis as a 
market for slaves, and in Exodus as famous for the severity of its servitude. 



Tyre and Sidon, as we learn from the book of Joel, were notorious for the pro 
secution of this trade. 

This custom appears also to have existed in other States. It traveled all 
over Asia. It spread through the Grecian and Roman world. It was in use 
among the barbarous nations that overturned the Roman empire ; and was 
therefore practised at the same period throughout Europe. However, as the 
northern nations were Settled in their conquests, the slavery and commerce of the 
human species began to decline, and were finally abolished. Some writers have 
ascribed this result to the prevalence of the feudal system ; while others, a 
much more numerous class, have maintained that it was the natural effect of 
Christianity. The advocates of the former opinion allege, that " the multitude 
of little states which sprung up from one great one at this era occasioned in 
finite bickerings and matter for contention. There was not a state or seignory 
that did not want all the men it could muster, either to defend their own right 
or to dispute that of their neighbors. Thus every man was taken into service : 
whom they armed they must trust ; and there could be no trust but in free men. 
Thus the barrier between the two classes was thrown down, and slavery was no 
more heard of in the west." 

On the other hand, it must be allowed that Christianity was admirably 
adapted to this purpose. It taught " that all men were originally equal ; that 
the Deity was no respecter of persons ; and that, as all men were to give an 
account of their actions hereafter, it was necessary that they should be free." 
These doctrines could not fail of having their proper influence upon those who 
first embraced Christianity from a conviction of its truth. We find them ac 
cordingly actuated by these principles. The greatest part of the charters 
which were granted for the freedom of slaves, many of which are still extant, 
were granted "pro amore Dei, pro mercede animae." They were founded in 
short on religious considerations, " that they might procure the favor of the 
Deity, which they had forfeited by the subjugation of those who were the 
objects of divine benevolence and attention equally with themselves." These 
considerations began to produce their effects, as the different nations were con 
verted to Christianity, and procured that general liberty at last, which at the 
close of the twelfth century was conspicuous in the west of Europe. 

But still we find that within two centuries after the suppression of slavery in 
Europe, the Portuguese, in close imitation of those piracies which we have 
mentioned as existing in the uncivilized ages of the world, made their descents 
upon Africa, and committing depredations upon the coast, first carried the 
wretched inhabitants into slavery. This practice, thus inconsiderable in its 
commencement, soon became general, and we find most of the maritime Chris 
tian nations of Europe following the piratical example. Thus did the Europeans, 
to their eternal infamy, revive a custom, which their own ancestors had so lately 
exploded from a consciousness of its impiety. The unfortunate Africans fled 
from the coast, and sought in the interior part of the country a retreat from 
the persecution of their invaders. But the Europeans still pursued them ; they 


entered their rivers, sailed up into the heart of the country, surprised the 
Africans in their recesses, and carried them into slavery. The next step which 
the Europeans found it necessary to take, was that of settling in the country ; 
of securing themselves by fortified posts ; of changing their system of force 
into that of pretended liberality ; and of opening, by every species of bribery 
and corruption, a communication with the natives. Accordingly they erected 
their forts and factories ; landed their merchandize, and endeavored by a 
peaceable deportment, by presents, and by every appearance of munificence, to 
allure the attachment and confidence of the Africans. The Portuguese erected 
their first fort in 1481, about forty years after Alonzo Gonzales had pointed 
out to his countrymen, as articles of commerce, the southern Africans. 

The scheme succeeded. An intercourse took place between the Europeans 
and Africans, attended with a confidence highly favorable to the views of am 
bition and avarice. In order to render this intercourse permanent as well as 
lucrative, the Europeans paid their court to the African chiefs, and a treaty of 
peace and commerce was concluded, in which it was agreed that the kings, on 
their part, should sentence prisoners of war, and convicts, to European servi 
tude ; and that the Europeans should in return supply them with the luxuries 
of the north. Thus were laid the foundations of that nefarious commerce, of 
which, in subsequent chapters, we intend to give the details.* 



Early existence of Slavery in Greece. Proportion of Slaves to Freemen. Their numbers 
in Athens and Sparta. Mild government of Slaves in Athens the reverse in Sparta. 
Instances of noble conduct of Slaves towards their masters. Probable origin of Slavery, 
prisoners of war. Examples in history of whole cities and states being reduced to 
Slavery : Judea, Miletos, Thebes. Slaves obtained by kidnapping and piracy. The 
traffic supposed to be attended by a curse. Certain nations sell their own people into 
Slavery. Power of masters over their Slaves ; the power of Life and Death. The 
Chians, the first Greeks who engaged in a regular Slave-trade. Their fate in being 
themselves finally reduced to Slavery. First type of the Maroon wars. The Chian 
Slaves revolt. The hero slave Drimacos. His history. Honors paid to his memory. 
Servile war among the Samians. Athenian laws to protect Slaves from cruelty. 
Slaves entitled to bring an action for assault. Death penalty for crimes against slaves. 
Slaves entitled to purchase freedom. Privileges of Slaves in Athens. Revolt of Slaves 
working in Mines. The temples a privileged sanctuary for Slaves who were cruelly 
treated. Tyrannical masters compelled to sell their Slaves. Slave auctions. Diogenes. 
Price of Slaves. Public Slaves, their employment. Educated by the State, and in 
trusted with important duties. Domestic Slaves : their food and treatment. The 
Slaves partake in the general decline of morals. History and Description of Athens. 


Greece, slavery existed from the earliest period of her history. Before 
the days of Homer it generally prevailed. The various states of Greece had 

* Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species : Encyclopedia Britt. : Antiquities of 
Greece and Rome. 


different codes of laws, but in all of them the slaves were a majority of the 
people. The proportion of slaves tp freemen probably varied in different 
states, and in the same state at different times. A historian states the propor 
tion to have been at one period as 400 to 30. In Athens, another writer 
states, there were three slaves to one freeman. In Sparta, the proportion of 
slaves was much greater than in Athens. 

The greatest writers of antiquity were, on this subject, perplexed and un 
decided. They appear to have comprehended the extent of the evil, but to 
have been themselves too much the slaves of habit and prejudice to discover 
that no form or modification of slavery is consistent with justice. Most per 
plexing of all, however, was the Laconian Heloteia ; because in that case the 
comparatively great number of the servile class rendered it necessary, in the 
opinion of some, to break their spirit and bring them down to their condition 
by a system of severity which constitutes the infamy of Sparta. * 

The discredit of subsisting on slave labor was, to a certain extent, shared 
by all the states of Greece, even by Athens. But in the treatment of that 
unfortunate class, there was as much variation as from the differences of 
national character might have been inferred. The Athenians, in this respect, 
as in most others, are represented as the antipodes of the Spartans ; inasmuch 
as they treated their slaves with humanity, and even indulgence, f We read, 
accordingly, of slaves whose love for their masters exceeded the love of broth 
ers ; they have toiled, fought, and died for them ; they have sometimes sur 
passed them in courage, and taught them, in situations of imminent danger, 
how to die. An example is recorded of a slave, who put on the disguise of 
his lord, that he might be slain in his stead. These examples, however, do 
not prove that there is any thing ennobling in servitude. On the contrary, 
the inference is, that great and noble souls had been dealt with unjustly by 

As soon as men began to give quarter in war, and became possessed of 
prisoners, the idea of employing them and rendering their labors profitable, 
naturally suggested itself. When it was found that advantages could be de 
rived from captured enemies instead of butchering them in the field, their lives 
were spared. At the outset, therefore, it is argued, slavery sprung from feel 
ings of humanity. A distinguished historian remarks : " When warlike peo 
ple, emerging from the savage state, first set about agriculture, the idea of 
sparing the lives of prisoners, on condition of their becoming useful to the 
conquerors by labor, was an obvious improvement upon the practice of former 
times, when conquered enemies were constantly put to death, not from a spirit 
of cruelty, but from necessity, for the conquerors were unable to maintain 
them in captivity, and dared not set them free."| 

* Manners and Customs of Ancient Greece. 

fHerodes Atticus lamented the death of his Slaves as if they had been his relatives, 
and erected statues to tln-ir memory in woods, or fields, or beside fountains. 
JMitford's History of Greece. 


Possibly the practice was borrowed from the East, where the mention of 
slaves occurs in the remotest ages. In later times, the Queen of Persia is 
represented to have urged Darius into the Grecian war, that she might possess 
Athenian, Spartan, Argive and Corinthian slaves. The practice was, when a 
number o* prisoner? had been taken, to make a division of them among the 
chiefs, generally by lot, and then to sell them for slaves. 

Examples occur in antiquity of whole cities and states being at once sub 
jected to servitude. Thus the inhabitants of Judea were twice carried away 
captive to Babylon, where their masters, not perhaps from mockery, required 
of them to sing some of their national songs ; to which, as we learn from the 
prophet, they replied, " How can we sing the songs of Zion in a strange land ? " 
The citizens of Miletos, after the unsuccessful revolt of Aristagoras, were 
carried into Persia, as were those also of other places. lake the Israelites, 
those Greeks long preserved in captivity their national manners and language, 
though surrounded by strangers, and urged by every inducement to assimilate 
themselves to their conquerors. A similar fate overtook the inhabitants of 
Thebes, who were sold into slavery by Alexander. 

As the supply produced by war seldom equaled the demand, the race of 
kidnappers alluded to in a former chapter, sprung up, who, partly merchants 
and partly pirates, roamed about the shores of the Mediterranean, as similar 
miscreants now do about the slave coasts of Africa. Neither war, however, 
nor piracy, sufficed at length to furnish that vast multitude of slaves which the 
growing luxury of the times induced the Greeks to consider necessary. Com 
merce, by degrees, conducted them to Caria and other parts of Asia Minor, 
particularly the southern coasts of the Black Sea, those great nurseries of 
slaves from that time until now. The first Greeks who engaged in this traffic, 
which even by the Pagans was supposed to be attended by a curse, are said 
to have been the Chians. They purchased their slaves from the barbarians, 
among whom the Lydians, the Phrygians and the natives of Pontos, with 
many others, were accustomed, like the modern Circassians, to carry on a trade 
in their own people. 

Before proceeding farther with the history of the traffic, it may be well to 
describe the power possessed by masters over their domestics during the heroic 
ages. Every man appears then to have been a king in his own house, and to 
have exercised his authority most regally. Power, generally, when unchecked 
by law, is fierce and inhuman ; and over their household, gentlemen, in those 
ages, exercised the greatest and most awful power, that of life and death, as 
they afterwards did at Rome. When supposed to deserve death, the slaves 
were executed ignominiously by hanging. This was regarded as an impure 
end. To die honorably was to perish by the sword. 

The Chians, as before observed, are said to have been the first Grecian peo 
ple who engaged in a regular slave-trade. For although the Thessalians and 
Spartans possessed slaves at a period much anterior, they obtained them by 
different means ; the latter by reducing to subjection the ancient Achaean in- 


habitants ; the former by their conquests over other nations. But the Chians 
possessed only such slaves as they had purchased with money ; in which they 
resembled the slave-holding nations of modern times. Other circumstances 
strongly suggest the parallel. We have here, perhaps, the first type of the 
Maroon wars, though on a smaller scale, and marked by fewer outbreaks of 
atrocity.* It is not, indeed, stated that the females were flogged, though 
throughout Greece the males were so corrected ; but whatever the nature of 
the severities practiced upon them may have been, the yoke of bondage was 
found too galling to be borne, and whole gangs took refuge in the mountains. 
Fortunately for them, the interior of the island abounded in fastnesses, and 
was in those days covered with forest. 

Here, therefore, the fugitives, erecting themselves dwellings, or taking 
possession of caverns among the almost inaccessible cliifs, successfully defended 
themselves, subsisting on the plunder of their former owners. Shortly before 
the time of the writer, to whom we are indebted for these details, a bondsman 
named Drimacos, made his escape from the city, and reached the mountains, 
where, by valor and conduct, he soon placed himself at the head of the servile 
insurgents, over whom he ruled like a king. The Chians led several expedi 
tions against him in vain. He defeated them in the field with great slaughter ; 
but at length, to spare the useless effusion of human blood, invited them to a 
conference, wherein he observed, that the slaves being encouraged in their revolt 
by an oracle, would never lay down their arms, or submit to the drudgery of 
servitude. Nevertheless, the war might be terminated, "for if my advice," 
said he, "be followed, and we be suffered to enjoy tranquility, numerous 
advantages will thence accrue to the state." 

There being little prospect of a satisfactory settlement of the matter by arms, 
the Chians consented to enter into a truce, as with a public enemy. Humbled 
by their losses and defeats, Drimacos found them submissive to reason. He 
therefore provided himself with weights, measures, and a signet, and exhibit 
ing them to his former masters, said : " When, in future, our necessities require 
that I should supply myself from your stores, it shall always be by these 
weights and measures ; and having taken the necessary quantity of provisions, 
I shall be careful to seal your warehouses with this signet. With respect to 
such of your slaves as may fly and come to me, I will institute a rigid exami 
nation into their story, and if they have just grounds for complaint, I will pro 
tect them if not, they shall be sent back to their owners." 

To these conditions the magistrates readily acceded ; upon which the slaves 

*Maroons ; the name given to revolted negroes in the West Indies and in some parts 
of South America. The appellation is supposed to be derived from Marony, a river sep 
arating Dutch and French Guiana, where larges numbers of the fugitives resided. In 
many cases, by taking to the forests and mountains, they have rendered themselves 
formidable to the colonies, and sustained a long and brave resistance against the whites. 
When Jamaica was conquered by the English, in 1655, about IfiflO Hnves retreated to 
the mountains, and were called Maroons. They continued to harass the island till the 
end of the last century, when they were reduced, by the aid of. blood-hounds. C^e 
Dallas's History of the Maroons. _) 



who still remained with their masters grew more obedient, and seldom took to 
flight, dreading the decision of Drimacos. Over his own followers he exer 
cised a despotic authority. They, in fact, stood far more in fear of him, than, 
when in bondage, of their lords ; and performed his bidding without question 
or murmur. He was severe in the punishment of the unruly, and permitted no 
man to plunder and lay waste the country, or commit any act of injustice. The 
public festivals he was careful to observe, going round and collecting from the 
proprietors of the land, who bestowed upon him both wine and the finest vic 
tims ; but if, on these occasions, he discovered that a plot was hatching, or any 
ambush laid for him, he would take speedy vengeance. 

Observing old age to be creeping upon Drimacos, and rendered wanton ap 
parently by prosperity, the government issued a proclamation, offering a great 
reward to any one who should capture him, or bring them his head. The old 
chief, discerning signals of treachery, or convinced that, at last, it must come 
to that, took aside a young man whom he loved, and said, " I have ever re 
garded you with a stronger affection than any other man, and to me you have 
been a brother. But now the days of my life are at an end, nor would I have 
them prolonged. "With you, however, it is not so. Youth, and the bloom of 
youth, are yours. What, then, is to be done ? You must prove yourself to 
possess valor and greatness of soul : and, since the state offers riches and free 
dom to whomsoever shall slay me and bear them my head, let the reward be 
yours. Strike it off, and be happy 1" 

At first the youth rejected the proposal, but ultimately Drimacos prevailed. 
The old man fell, and his friend, on presenting his head, received the reward, 
together with his freedom ; and, after burying his benefactor's remains, he sailed 
away to his own country. 

The Chiaus, however, underwent the just punishment of their treachery. No 
longer guided by the wisdom and authority of Drimacos, the fugitive slaves re 
turned to their original habits of plunder and devastation ; whereupon, the 
Chians, remembering the moderation of the dead, erected an heroon upon his 
grave, and denominated him the propitious hero. The insurgents, also, hold 
ing his memory in veneration, continued for generations to offer up the first 
fruits of their spoil upon his tomb. He was, in fact, honored with a kind of 
apotheosis, and canonized among the &x>ds of the island ; for it was believed 
that his shade often appeared to men in dreams, for the purpose of revealing 
some servile conspiracy, while yet in the bud ; and they to whom he vouchsafed 
these warning visits, never failed to proceed to his chapel, and offer sacrifice to 
his manes. 

In process of time the Chians themselves were compelled to drain the bitter 
cup of servitude. For, as we find recorded, they were subjugated by Mithri- 
dates, and were delivered up to their own slaves, to be carried away captive 
into Colchis. This, Athenteus considers the just punishment of their wicked 
ness in having been the first who introduced the slave trade into Greece, when 
they might have been better served by freemen for hire. 



The servile war which took place among the Samians had a more fortunate 
issue, though but few particulars respecting it have come down to us. It was 
related, however, by Malacos in his annals of the Siphnians, that Ephesos was 
first founded by a number of Samian slaves, who, having retired to a mountain 
on the island to the number of a thousand, inflicted numerous evils on their former 
tyrants. These, in the sixth year of the war, having consulted the oracle, came 
lo an understanding with their slaves, who were permitted to depart in safety 
from the island. They sailed away, and became the founders of the city and 
people of Ephesos. 

In Attica the institution of slavery, though attended by innumerable evils 
ici said to have exhibited itself under the mildest form which it any where as 
sumed in the ancient world. With their characteristic attention to the inter 
ests of humanity, the Athenians enacted a law, in virtue of which, slaves could 
indict their masters for assault and battery. Hyperides observed in his oration 
against Mantitheos, " our laws, making no distinction in this respect between 
freemen and slaves, grant to all alike the privilege of bringing an action against 
those who insult or injure them." To the same effect spoke Lycurgus in his 
first oration against Lycophron. Plato was less just to them than the laws of 
their country. If, in his imaginary state, a slave killed a slave in self-defense, 
he was judged innocent ; if a freeman, he was put to death like a parricide. 
But Demosthenes has preserved the law which empowered any Athenian, not 
laboring under legal disability, to denounce to the Thesmothetae the person 
who offered violence to man, woman or child, whether slave or free. Such ac 
tions were tried before the court of Helisea, and numerous were the examples 
of men who suffered death for crimes committed against slaves. Another priv 
ilege enjoyed by the slave class in Attica was that of purchasing their own 
freedom, as often as, by the careful management of the peculium secured them 
by law, they were enabled to offer their owners an equivalent for their services. 

At Athens, with some exceptions, every temple in the city appears to have 
been open to them. Occasionally, certain of their number were selected to 
accompany their masters to consult the oracle at Delphi, when they were per 
mitted, like free citizens, to wear crowns upon their heads, which, for the time, 
conferred upon them exemption from blows or stripes. Among their more se 
rious grievances was their liability to personal chastisement ; which was too 
much left to the discretion of their owners. In time of war, however, this 
privilege was not practised, since the flogged slaves could go over to the ene 
my, as sometimes happened. They are said, besides, to have worked the mines 
in fetters ; probably, however, only in consequence of a revolt, in which they 
slew the overseers of the mines, and taking possession of the acropolis of Su- 
nium, laid waste, for a time, the whole of the adjacent districts. This took 
place simultaneously with the second insurrection of the slaves in Sicily, in the 
quelling of which nearly a million of their number were destroyed. 

We find from contemporary writers, that except in cases of incorrigible 
perverseness, slaves were encouraged to marry ; it being supposed they would 

.': .'-. ',,. % 


* ',' 

thus become more attached to their masters, who, in return, would put more 
trust in slaves born and brought up in the house, than in such as were pur 

We have seen that slaves were protected by the laws from grievous insults 
imd contumely; but if, in spite of legal protection, their masters found means 
to render their lives a burden, the state provided them with an asylum in the 
temple of Theseus and the Eumenides. Having there taken sanctuary, their 
oppressors could not force them thence without incurring the guilt of sacrilege.-. 
Thus in a fragment of Aristophanes' Seasons, we find a slave deliberating 
whether he should take refuge in the Theseion, and there remain until he could 
procure his transfer to a new master ; for any one who conducted himself too 
harshly towards his slaves, was by law compelled to sell them. Not only so, 
but the slave could institute an action against his lord and master, or against 
any other citizen who behaved unjustly or.injuriously towards him. The right 
of sanctuary was, however, limited, and extended from the time of the slave's 
flight to the next new moon, when a periodical slave auction appears to have 
been held. 

On this occasion the slaves were stationed in a circle in the market place, 
and the one whose turn it was to be sold, mounted a table, where he exhibited 
himself and was knocked down to the best bidder. The sales seem to have 
been conducted precisely like those of the present day in Richmond, Charles 
ton, New Orleans and other cities of the south. The Greek auctioneer, or 
slave-broker, however, was answerable at law if the quality of the persons 
sold did not correspond with the description given of them in the catalogue. 
It appears that, sometimes, when the articles were lively, or witty, they made 
great sport for the company, as in the case of Diogenes, who bawled aloud 
" whoever among you wants a master, let him buy me." 

Diogenes, of Sinope, flourished about the fourth century before Christ, and 
was the most famous of the Cynic philosophers. Having been banished from 
his native place with his father, who had been accused of coining false money, 
he went to Athens, and requested Antisthenes to admit him among his disci 
ples. That philosopher in vain attempted to repel the importunate supplicant, 
even by blows, and finally granted his request. Diogenes devoted himself, 
with the greatest diligence, to the lessons of his master, whose doctrines he 
extended still further. He not only, like Antisthenes, despised all philosophi 
cal speculations, and opposed the corrupt morals of his time, but also carried 
the application of his doctrines, in his own person, to the extreme. The sterr: 
austerity of Antisthenes was repulsive ; but Diogenes exposed the follies of his 
contemporaries with wit and humor, and was, therefore, better adapted to be 
the censor and instructer of the people, though he really accomplished little in 
the way of reforming them. At the same time, he applied, in its fullest extent, 
his principle of divesting himself of all superfluities. He taught that a wise 
man, in order to be happy, must endeavor to preserve himself independent of 
fortune, of men, and of himself: in order to do this, he must despise riches, 


' ; %' 
power, honor, arts and sciences, and all the enjoyments of life. He endeavor 

ed to exhibit, in his own person, a model of Cynic virtue. For this purpose 
he subjected himself to the severest trials, and disregarded all the forms of 
polite society. He often struggled to overcome his appetite, or satisfied it 
with the coarsest food ; practised the most rigid temperance, even at feasts, in 
the midst of the greatest abundance, and did not even consider it beneath his 
dignity to ask alms. By day, he walked through the streets of Athens bare 
foot, without any coat, with a long beard, a stick in his hand, and a wallet on 
his shoulders ; by night, he slept in a tub, though this has been doubted. He 
defied the inclemency of the weather, and bore the scoffs and insults of the 
people with the greatest equanimity. Seeing a boy draw water with his hand, 
he threw away his wooden goblet as an unnecessary utensil. He never spared 
the follies of men, but openly and loudly inveighed against vice and corruption, 
attacking them with satire and irony.. The people, and even the higher classes, 
heard him with pleasure, and tried their wit upon him. When he made them feel 
his superiority, they often had recourse to abuse, by which, however, he was little 
moved. He rebuked them for expressions and actions which violated decency 
and modesty, and therefore it is not credible that he was guilty of the excesses 
with which his enemies have reproached him. His rudeness offended the laws 
of good breeding rather than the principles of morality. Many anecdotes, 
however, related of this singular person, are mere fictions. On a voyage to 
JEgina, he fell into the hands of pirates, who sold him as a slave to the 
Corinthian Xeniades in Crete. The latter emancipated him, and intrusted 
him with the education of his children. He attended to the duties of his new 
employment with the greatest care, commonly living in summer at Corinth, 
and in winter at Athens. It was at the former place that Alexander found 
him on the road-side, basking in the sun, and, astonished at the indifference 
with which the ragged beggar regarded him, entered into conversation with 
him, and finally gave him permission to ask for a boon. "I ask nothing," 
answered the philosopher, "but that thou wouldst get out of my sunshine." 
Surprised at this proof of content, the king is said to have exclaimed, " Were 
I not Alexander, I would be Diogenes." At another time, he was carrying ;i 
lantern through the streets of Athens, in the daytime : on being asked what lie 
was looking for, he answered, " I am seeking a man." Thinking he had found, 
in the Spartans, the greatest capacity for becoming such men as he wished, lie 
said, " Men I have found nowhere ; but children, at least, I have seen at Lace- 
daemon." Being asked, " What is the most dangerous animal?" his answci 
was, " Among wild animals, the slanderer; among tame, the flatterer." He 
died 324 B. C., at a great age. When he felt death approaching, he seated 
himself on the road leading to Olympia, where he died with philosophical 
calmness, in the presence of a great number of people, who were collected 
around him. 

Slaves of little or no value, were contemptuously called " salt bought," from 
a custom prevalent among the inland Thraoians, of bartering their captives foi 


' : .-<' ., t '+' ''" ;ki - 

gait ; whence it may be inferred that domestics from tim part of the world were 
considered inferior. 

Respecting the price of slaves, a passage occurs in the Memorabilia, where 
Socrates inquires whether friends were to be valued at so much per head, like 
slaves ; some of whom, he says, were not worth a demimina, while others would 
fetch two, five, or even ten rninas ; that is, the price varied from ten to two 
hundred dollars. Nicias bought an overseer for his silver mines at the price 
of a talent, or about twelve hundred dollars. 

Exclusively of the fluctuations caused by the variations in the supply and 
demand, the market price of slaves was affected by their age, health, strength, 
beauty, natural abilities, mechanical ingenuity, and moral qualities. The mean 
est and cheapest class were those who worked in the mills, where mere bodily 
strength was required. A low value was set upon slaves who worked in the 
mines a sum equal to about eight dollars,. In the age of Demosthenes, ordi 
nary house slaves, male or female, were valued at about the same price. De 
mosthenes considered two minae and a half, fifty dollars, a large sum for a 
person of this class. Of the sword cutlers possessed by the orator's father, 
some were valued at six mina?, others at five, while the lowest were worth 
above three. Chairmakers sold for about two minse, forty dollars. The wages 
of slaves, when let out for hire by their masters, varied greatly, as did the profit 
derived from them. Expert manufacturers of fine goods produced their own 
ers much larger returns than miners. 

Slaves at Athens were divided into two classes, private and public. The 
latter, who were the property of the state, performed several kinds of service, 
supposed to be unworthy of freemen. They were, for example, employed as 
vergers, messengers, scribes, clerks of public works, and inferior servants of 
the gods. Most of the temples of Greece possessed a great number of slaves, 
or serfs, who cultivated the sacred domains, exercised various humbler ofiices of 
religion, and were ready on all occasions to execute the orders of the priests. 
At Corinth, where the worship of Aphrodite chiefly prevailed, theso slaves con 
sisted almost exclusively of women, who, having on certain occasions burut 
frankincense, and offered up public prayers to the goddess, were sumptuously 
feasted within the precincts of her fane.* 

Among the Athenians, the slaves of the republic, generally captives taken 
in war, received a careful education, and were sometimes intrusted with im 
portant duties. Out of their number were selected the secretaries, who, in time 
of war, accompanied the generals and treasurers of the army, and made exac t 
minutes of the expenditure, in order that, when, on their return, these officers 
should come to render an account of their proceedings, their books might be 
compared with those of the secretaries. In cases of difficulty, these unfortu- 

* APHRODITE, the Goddess of Love among the Greeks, synonymous with Aphrogeneia, 
that is, born of the foam of the sea. Aphrodisia was a festival sacred to Venus, which 
was cek-bratwl in various parts of Greece, but with the greatest solemnity in the island 
u Cyprus. 


uate individuals were subjected to torture, in order to obtain that kind of evi 
dence which the ancients deemed most satisfactory, but which the moderns 
regard with extreme uncertainty. 

JEsop, the oldest Greek fabulist, was a native of Phrygia, and a slave, until 
he was set free by his last owner. He lived about the middle of the sixth cen 
tury B. C. He inculcated rules of practical morality, drawn from the habits 
of the inferior creation, and thus spread his fame through Greece and all the 
neighboring countries. Croesus, king of Lydia, invited JEsop to his court, and 
kept him always about his person. Indeed, he was never absent, except dur 
ing his journeys to Greece, Persia and Egypt. Croesus once sent him to Del 
phi to offer sacrifice to Apollo ; while engaged in this embassy, he wrote his 
fable of the Floating Log, which appeared terrible at a distance, but lost its 
terrors when approached. The priests of Delphi, applying the fable to them 
selves, resolved to take vengeance on the author, and plunged him from a preci 
pice. Planudes, who wrote a miserable romance, of which he makes JEsop 
the hero, describes him as excessively deformed and disagreeable in his appear - 
ance, and given to stuttering ; but this account does not agree with what his 
contemporaries say of him. The stories related of J3sop, even by the an 
cients, are not entitled to credit. A collection of fables made by Planudes, 
which are still extant under the name of the Grecian fabulist, are ascribed to 
him with little foundation ; their origin is lost in the darkness of antiquity. 

A very significant and pleasant custom prevailed when a slave newly pur 
chased was first brought into the house. They placed him before the hearth, 
\vhere his future master, mistress and fellows ervants poured baskets of ripe 
fruit, dates, figs, filberts, walnuts, &c., upon his head, to intimate that he was 
come into the abode of plenty. The occasion was converted by his fellow 
slaves into a holiday and feast ; for custom appropriated to them whatever 
was cast upon the new comer. 

Their food was commonly, as might be expected, inferior to that of their 
masters. Thus the dates grown in Greece, which ripened but imperfectly, were 
appropriated to their use ; and for their drink they had a thin wine, made of 
the husks of grapes, laid, after they had been pressed, to soak in water, and 
then squeezed again. A drink precisely similar is now made in the wine dis 
tricts of France. They generally ate barley bread ; the citizens themselves 
frequently did the same. To give a relish to their plain meal of bread, plain 
broth and salted fish, they were indulged with pickles. In the early ages of 
the commonwealth, they imitated the frugal manner of their lords, so that no 
slave, who valued his reputation, would be seen to enter a tavern ; but in latei 
times they naturally shared largely in the general depravity of morals, and 
placed their greatest good in eating and drinking. Their whole creed, on this 
point, has been summed up in a few words by the poet Socian. " Wherefore," 
exclaims a slave, "dole forth these absurdities; these ravings of sophists, 
prating up and down the Lyceum, the Academy, and the gates of the Odeion ? 
[n all these there is nothing of value. Let is drink let us drink deeply 


Let us rejoice, whilst it is yet permitted us to delight our souls. Enjoy thyself, 
Manes ! Nothing is sweeter than eating and drinking. Virtues, embassies, 
generalships, are vain pomps, resembling the plaudits of a dream. Heaven at 
the fated hour will deliver thee to the cold grasp of death, and thou wilt bear 
with thee nothing but what thou hast drunk and eaten ! All else is dust, like 
Pericles, Codros and Cimon." 

The employment of household slaves necessarily varied according to the 
rank and condition of their lords. In the dwellings of the wealthy and lux 
urious, they were accustomed to fan their masters and mistresses, and drive 
away the flies with branches of myrtle. Among the Roman ladies, it was 
customary to retain a female slave, for the sole purpose of looking after the 
Melitensian lap-dogs of their mistresses, in which they were less ambitious 
than that dame in Lucian, who kept a philosopher for this purpose. Female 
cup-bearers and ladies' maids were likewise slaves ; the latter were initiated in 
all the arts of the toilet. 

There seems to have been a set of men who earned their subsistence by 
initiating slaves in household labors. In the bakers' business, Anaxarchos, a 
philosopher, introduced an improvement, by which modern times may profit, 
to preserve his bread pure from the touch, and even from the breath of the 
slaves who made it, he caused them to knead the dough with gloves on their 
hands, and to wear a respirator of some gauze-like substance over their mouths. 
Other individuals, who grudged their domestics a taste of their delicacies, 
obliged them to wear a broad collar like a wheel around their necks, which 
prevented them from bringing their hands to their mouths. This odious prac 
tice, however, could not have been general. 

Besides working at the mill and fetching water, both somewhat laborious 
employments, we find that female slaves were sometimes engaged in wood cut 
ting upon the mountains. Towards the decline of the commonwealth, it became 
a mark of wealth and consequence to be served by black domestics ; as was 
also the fashion among the Romans and the Egyptian Greeks. Cleopatra had 
negro boys for torch-bearers ; and the Athenian ladies, as a foil, perhaps, liked 
to be attended by black waiting maids. 

When men have usurped an undue dominion over their fellows, they seldom 
know where to stop. The Syrians, themselves enslaved politically, and often 
sold into servitude abroad, affected when rich a peculiarly luxurious manner : 
female attendants waited on their ladies, who, when mounting their carriages, 
required them to bend on all fours, that they might make a footstool of their 

We append to our notice of slavery in Athens, a description of the splendors 
of that celebrated city, from whence the light of intellectual cultivation has 
spread for thousands of years down to our own time. This capital of the old 
kingdom of Attica, and of the more modern democracy, was founded by 
Cecrops, 1550 years before Christ. The old city was built on the summit of 
some rocks, which lie in the midst of a wide and pleasant plain, which became 


filled with buildings as the inhabitants increased ; and this made the distinction 
between Acropolis and Catapolis, or the upper and lower city. The citadel 
or Acropolis was 60 stadia in circumference, and included many extensive 
buildings. Athens lies on the Saronic gulf, opposite the eastern coast of the 
Peloponnesus. It is built on a peninsula formed by the junction of the Ceph- 
issus and Ilissus. From the sea, where its real power lay, it was distant 
about five leagues. It was connected, by walls of great strength and extent, 
with three harbors the Piraeus, Munychia and Phalerum. The first was con 
sidered the most convenient, and was one of the emporiums of Grecian com 
merce. The surrounding coast was covered with magnificent buildings, whose 
splendor vied with those of the city. The walls of rough stone, which con 
nected the harbors with the city, were so broad, that carriages could go on 
their top. The Acropolis contained the most splendid works of art of which 
Athens could boast. Its chief ornament was the Parthenon, or temple of 
Minerva. This magnificent building, which, even in ruins, has been the won 
der of the world, was 217 feet long, 98 broad, and 65 high. Destroyed by 
the Persians, it was rebuilt in a noble manner by Pericles, 444 years B. C. 
Here stood the statue of Minerva by Phidias, a masterpiece of art, formed of 
ivory, 46 feet high, and richly decorated with gold, whose weight was estimated 
at from 40 to 44 talents (2000 to 2200 pounds), which, if we reckon, accord 
ing to Barthelemy, the silver talent at 5700 livres, and the ratio of gold to 
silver as 1 to 13, would make a sum of 2,964,000, or 3,260,400 livres (523,700, 
or 576,004 dollars). The Propylseum, built of white marble, formed the 
entrance to the Parthenon. This building lay on the north side of the Acrop 
olis, clofee to the Erectheum, also of white marble, consisting of two temples, 
the one dedicated to Pallas Minerva, and the other to Neptune ; besides an 
other remarkable building, called the Pandroseum. In the circle of Minerva's 
temple stood the olive-tree, sacred to that goddess. On the front part of the 
Acropolis, and on each end, two theatres are visible, the one of Bacchus, the 
other, the Odeum ; the former for dramatic exhibitions, the latter for musical 
competitions, also built with extraordinary splendor. The treasury is also in 
the back part of the temple of Minerva. In the lower city were many fine 
specimens of architecture, viz : the Poikile, or the gallery of historical paint 
ings ; besides the temple of the Winds, and the monuments of celebrated men. 
But the greatest pieces of architecture were without the city the temples of 
Theseus and Jupiter Olympius, one of which stood on the north, the other on 
the south side of the city. The first was of Doric architecture, and resembled 
the Parthenon. On the metopes of this temple the famous deeds of old heroes 
and kings were excellently represented. The temple of Jupiter Olympius was 
of Ionic architecture, and far surpassed all the other buildings of Athens in 
splendor and beauty. Incalculable sums were spent on it. It was from time 
to time enlarged, and rendered more beautiful, until, at length, it was finished 
by Adrian. The outside of this temple was adorned by nearly 120 fluted 
columns, 60 feet high, and 6 feet in diameter. The inside was nearly half a 


league in circumference. Here stood the renowned statue of the god made 
by Phidias, of gold and ivory. The Pantheon (sacred to all the gods) must 
not be forgotten. Of this the Pantheon at Home is an exact copy. Besides 
these wonderful works of art, Athens contains many other places which must 
always be interesting, from the recollections connected with them. The old 
philosophers were not accustomed, as is well known, to shut up their scholars 
in lecture-rooms, but mingled with them on the freest and pleasantest terms, 
arid, for this purpose, sought out spots which were still and retired. Such a 
spot was the renowned academy where Plato taught, lying about six stadia 
north of the city, forming a part of a place called Ceramicus. This spot, 
originally marshy, had been made a very pleasant place, by planting rows of 
trees, and turning through it streams of fresh water. Such a place was the 
Lyceum, where Aristotle taught, and which, through him, became the seat of 
the Peripatetic school. It lay on the bank of the Ilissus, opposite the city, 
and was also used for gymnastic exercises. Not far from thence was the less 
renowned Cynosarges, where Antisthenes, the founder of the Cynic school, 
taught. The sects of Zeno and Epicurus held their meetings in the city. 
Zeuo chose the well-known Poikile, and Epicurus established himself in a 
garden within the walls, for he loved both society and rural quiet. Not only 
literary, but political assemblies gave a particular interest to different places 
in Athens. Here was the court of areopagus, where that illustrious body 
gave their decisions ; the Prytaneum, or senate-house ; the Pnyx, where the 
free people of Athens deliberated. After 23 centuries of war and devastation, 
of changes from civilized to savage masters, have passed over this great city, 
its ruins still excite astonishment. No inconsiderable part of the Acropolis 
was lately standing. The Turks have surrounded it with a broad, irregular 
wall. In this wall one may perceive the remains of the old wall, together with 
fragments of ancient pillars, which have been taken from the ruins of the old 
to construct new edifices. The right wing of the Propylaeum, built by 
Pericles at the expense of 2012 talents, and which formed the ancient entrance, 
was a temple of victory. The roof of this building stood as late as 1656, 
when it was destroyed by the explosion of some powder kept there. In a part 
of the present wall, there are fragments of excellent designs in basso relievo, 
representing the contest of the Athenians with the Amazons. On the opposite 
wing of the Propylseum are six whole columns, with gate-ways between them. 
These pillars, half covered on the front side by the wall built by the Turks, 
are of marble, white as snow, and of the finest workmanship. They consist 
of three or four stones, so artfully joined together, that, though they have beer, 
exposed to the weather for 2000 years, yet no separation has been observed. 
From the Propylaeum we step into the Parthenon. On the eastern front of 
this building, also, there are eight columns standing, and several colonnades on 
the side. Of the pediment, which represented the contest of Neptune and 
Minerva for Athens, there is nothing remaining but the head of a sea-horse, and 
the figures of two women without heads ; but in all we must admire the highest 


degree of truth and beauty. The battle between the Centaurs and Lapithse 
is better preserved. Of all the statues with which it was adorned, that of 
Adrian alone remains. The inside of this temple is now changed into a mosque. 
In the whole of this mutilated building, we find an indescribable expression of 
grandeur and sublimity. There are also astonishing remains to be seen of the 
Erectheum (the temple of Neptune Erectheus), especially the beautiful female 
figures called Caryatides, and which form two arch-ways. Of both theatres 
there is only so much of the outer walls remaining, that one can estimate their 
former condition and enormous size. The arena has sunk down, and is now 
planted with corn. In the lower city itself, there are no vestiges to be found 
of equal beauty and extent. Near a church, sacred to Santa Maria Maggiore, 
stand three very beautiful Corinthian columns, which support an architrave. 
They have been supposed to be the remains of a temple of Jupiter Olympius, 
but the opinion is not well grounded : probably, they are the remains of the 
old Poikile. The temple of the Winds, built by Andronicus Cyrrhestes, is not 
entire. Its form is an octagon : on each side it is covered with reliefs, which 
represent one of the principal winds : the work is excellent. The preservation 
of this edifice is owing to its being occupied by the dervises as a mosque. Of 
the monuments of distinguished men, with which a whole street was filled, only 
the fine one of Lysicrates remains. It consists of a pedestal surrounded by a 
colonnade, and is surmounted by a dome of Corinthian architecture. This has 
been supposed to be the spot which Demosthenes used for his study, but the 
supposition is not well supported. Some prostrate walls are the only remains 
of the splendid gymnasium built by Ptolemy. Outside of the city, our wonder 
is excited by the lofty ruins of the temple of the Olympian Jupiter. Of 120 
pillars, 16 remain ; but none of the statues are in existence. The pedestals 
and inscriptions are scattered here and there, and partly buried in the earth. 
The main body of the temple of Theseus has remained almost entire, but much 
of it, as it now stands, is of modern origin. The figures on the outside are 
mostly destroyed, but those which adorn the frieze within are well preserved. 
They represent the actions of the heroes of antiquity. The battle between 
Theseus and the Centaur is likewise depicted. On the hill where the famous 
court of areopagus held its sittings, you find steps hewn in the rock, places for 
the judges to sit, and over against these the stations of the accuser and the 
accused. The hill is now a Turkish burial-ground, and is covered with monu 
ments. The Pnyx, the place of assembly for the people, not far from the 
Areopagus, is very nearly in its primitive state One may see the place from 
which the orators spoke hewn in the rock, the seats of the scribes, and, at both 
ends, the places of those officers whose duty it was to preserve silence, and to 
make known the event of public deliberations. The niches are still to be seen, 
where those who had any favor to ask of the people deposited their petitions. 
The paths for running are still visible, where the gymnastic exercises were per 
formed, and which Herodes Atticus built of white marble. The spot occupied 
by the Lyceum is only known by a quantity of fallen stones. A more modern 


edifice stands in the garden in the place of the academy. In the surrounding 
spa.ce, the walks of the Peripatetics can be discerned, and some olive-trees of 
high antiquity still command the reverence of the beholder. The long walls 
are totally destroyed, though the foundations are yet to be found on the plain. 
The Piraeus has scarcely any thing of its ancient splendor, except a few ruined 
pillars, scattered here and there : the same is the case with the Phalerum and 
Munychia. It appears probable, that, in the time of Pausanius, many monu 
ments were extant which belonged to the period before the Persian war ; because 
so transitory a possession as Xerxes had of the city, scarcely gave him time to 
finish the destruction of the walls and principal public edifices. In the restor 
ation of the city to its former state, Themistocles looked more to the useful, 
Cimon to magnificence and splendor ; and Pericles far surpassed them both hi 
his buildings. The great supply of money which he had from the tribute of 
the other states, belonged to no succeeding ruler. Athens at length saw much 
of her ancient splendor restored ; but, unluckily, Attica was not an island, and, 
after the sources of power, which belonged to the fruitful and extensive country 
of Macedonia, were developed by an able and enlightened prince, the opposing 
interests of many free states could not long withstand the disciplined army of 
a warlike people, led by an active, able and ambitious monarch. When Sylla 
destroyed the works of the Piraeus, the power of Athens by sea was at an end, 
and with that fell the whole city. Flattered by the triumvirate, favored by 
Adrian's love of the arts, Athens was at no time so splendid as under the An- 
toniues, when the magnificent works of from eight to ten centuries stood in 
view, and the edifices of Pericles were in equal preservation with the new 
buildings. Plutarch himself wonders how the structures of Ictinus, of Menes- 
icles and Phidias, which were built with such surprising rapidity, could retain 
such a perpetual freshness. Probably Pausanius saw Greece yet unplundered. 
The Romans, from reverence towards a religion approaching so nearly to their 
own, and wishing to conciliate a people more cultivated than themselves, were 
ashamed to rob temples where the masterpieces of art were kept as sacred, and 
were satisfied with a tribute of money, although in Sicily they did not abstain 
from the plunder of the temples, on account of the prevalence of Carthaginian 
and Phoenician influence in that island. Pictures, even in the time of Pausa- 
nias, may have been left in their places. The wholesale robberies of collectors, 
the removal of great quantities of the works of art to Constantinople, when 
the creation of new specimens was no longer possible, Christian zeal, and the 
attacks of barbarians, destroyed, after a time, in Athens, what the emperors 
had spared. We have reason to think, that the colossal statue of Minerva 
Proffiajhos was standing in the time of Alaric. About 420 A. D., paganism 
was totally annihilated at Athens, and, when Justinian closed even the schools 
of the philosophers, the recollection of the mythology was lost. The Parthe 
non was turned into a church of the Virgin Mary, and St. George stepped into 
the place of Theseus. The manufactory of silk, which had hitherto remained, 
was destroyed by the transportation of a colony of weavers, by Roger of 


Sicily, and, in 1456, the place fell into the hands of Omar. To complete its 
degradation, the city of Minerva obtained the privilege (an enviable one in the 
East) of being governed by a black eunuch, as an appendage to the harem. 
The Parthenon became a mosque, and, at the west end of the Acropolis, those 
alterations were commenced, which the new discovery of* artillery then made 
necessary. In 1687, at the siege of Athens by the Venetians under Morosini, 
it appears that the temple of Victory was destroyed, the beautiful remains of 
\vhich are to be seen in the British museum. September 28, of this year, a 
bomb fired the powder magazine kept by the Turks in the Parthenon, and, with 
rhis building, destroyed the ever memorable remains of the genius of Phidias. 
Probably, the Venetians knew not what they destroyed ; they could not have 
intended that their artillery should accomplish such devastation. The city was 
.surrendered to them September 29. They wished to send the chariot of Vic 
tory, which stood on the west pediment of the Parthenon, to Venice, as a tro 
phy of their conquest, but, in removing, it fell and was dashed to pieces. April, 
1688, Athens was again surrendered to the Turks, in spite of the remonstrances 
of the inhabitants, who, with good reason, feared the revenge of their return 
ing masters. Learned travelers have, since that time, often visited Athens ; 
and we may thank their relations and drawings for the knowledge which we 
have of many of the monuments of the place.* 



The Helots : leading events of their History summed up. Their Masters described. 
The Spartans, their manners, customs and constitutions. Distinguishing traits : se 
verity, resolution and perseverance, treachery and craftiness. Marriage. Treatment 
of Infants. Physical Education of Youth. Their endurance of hardships. The He 
lots : their origin ; supposed to belong to the State ; power of life and death over 
them ; how subsisted ; property acquired by them ; their military service. Plato, 
Aristotle, Isocrates, Plutarch and other writers convict the Spartans of barbarity 
towards them ; the testimony of Myron on this point ; instances of tyranny and 
cruelty. Institution of the Crypteia; annual massacre of the Helots. Terrible 
instance of treachery. Bloody servile wars. Sparta engaged in contests with her own 
vassals. Relies upon foreign aid. Earthquake, and vengeance of the Helots. Con 
stant source of terror to their masters. Other classes of slaves. Their privileges and 
advancement. Slavery in Crete: classes and condition. Mild treatment. Strange 
l-ilvilcges during certain Festivals. Slaves of Syracuse rebel and triumph. The Ar 

t l 

i HERE seems to be a diversity of opinion among modern writers, as to the 
< edition of the Spartan Helots. The American Encyclopedia, in giving 

* Encyclopedia Americana. 


briefly the prominent events of their history, states, that the name is generally 
derived from the town of Helos, the inhabitants of which were carried off and 
reduced to slavery by the Heraclida3, about 1000 B. C. They differed from 
the other Greek slaves in not belonging individually to separate masters ; they 
were the property of the state, which alone had the disposal of their freedom. 
They formed a separate class of inhabitants, and their condition was, in many 
respects, similar to that of the boors in some countries of Europe. The state 
assigned them to certain citizens, by whom they were employed in private 
labors, though not exclusively, as the state still exacted certain services from 
them. Agriculture and all mechanical arts at Sparta were in the hands of the 
Helots, since the laws of Lycurgus prohibited the Spartans from all lucrative 
occupations. But the Helots were also obliged to bear arms for the state, in 
case of necessity. The barbarous treatment to which they were exposed often 
excited them to insurrection. Their dress, by which they were contemptuously 
distinguished from the free Spartans, consisted of cat's-skin, and a leather cap, 
of a peculiar shape. They were sometimes liberated for their services, or for 
a sum of money. If their numbers increased too much, the young Spartans, 
it is said, were sent out to assassinate them. Their number is uncertain, but 
Thucydides says that it was greater than that of the slaves in any other Gre 
cian state. It has been variously estimated, at from 320,000 to 800,000. They 
several times rose against their masters, but were always finally reduced. 

Before we proceed with the history of the Spartan Helots, it will be well 
enough to digress, in order to understand the character of their masters, who 
were, in many respects, a peculiar people. 

Sparta, or Lacedaemon, the capital of Laconia and of the Spartan state, lay 
an the west bank of the river Eurotas, and embraced a circuit of six miles. 
The ruins are still seen nearly a league to the east of Misistra, and are known 
by the name of Palgeopolis, or "ancient city." The Spartans were distin 
guished among the people of Greece by their manners, customs and constitu 
tion. Their kings ruled only through the popular will, as they had no other 
privileges than those of giving their opinion first in the popular assemblies, 
acting as umpires in disputes, and of commanding the army : their only other 
advantages were a considerable landed estate, a large share of the spoils, and 
the chief seat in assemblies and at meals. The Spartans, that is, the descend 
ants of the Dorians, who acquired possession of Laconia under the Heraclida? 
were occupied only with war and the chase, and left the agricultural labors to 
the Helots ; but the Lacedaemonians, or Perio3ci (the ancient inhabitants of 
the country), engaged in commerce, navigation and manufactures. Although 
the Spartan conquerors were superior in refinement and cultivation to the 
Lacedaemonians, the arts of industry flourished only among the latter. They 
gradually intermingled with the Spartans, whom they exceeded in number, and 
formed one people. Both people constituted one state, with a national assem 
bly, to which the towns sent deputies. The military contributions in money 
and troops formed the principal tribute of the free Lacedaemonians to the 


Spartans (Dorians). The former were sometimes divided by jealousy from 
the latter, and in the Theban war several towns withdrew their troops from 
the Spartans, and joined Epaminondas. The distinguishing traits of the 
Spartans were severity, resolution and perseverance. Defeat and reverse 
never discouraged them. But they were faithless and crafty, as appears from 
their conduct in the Messenian wars, in which they not only bribed the Arca 
dian king, Aristocrates, to the basest treachery towards the Messenians, but 
also corrupted the Delphic oracle, of which they made use to the prejudice of 
the Messenians. The age at which marriage might be contracted was fixed by 
Lycurgus at thirty for men and twenty for women. When a Spartan woman 
was pregnant, it was required that pictures of the handsomest young men 
should be hung up in her chamber, for the purpose of producing a favorable 
effect on the fruit of her womb. The other Greeks washed the new-born infante 
with water, and afterwards rubbed them over with oil; but the Spartans 
bathed them in wine, to try the strength of their constitution. They had a 
notion that a wine bath produced convulsions or even death in weakly chil 
dren, but confirmed the health of the strong. If the infant proved vigorous 
and sound, the state received it into the number of citizens ; otherwise it was 
thrown into a cave on mount Taygetus. In the other Grecian states, the 
exposition of children was a matter of custom ; in Sparta it was forbidden by 
law. The Spartan children were early inured to hardship and accustomed to 
freedom. Stays, which were in use among the other Grecians, were unknown 
to the Spartans. To accustom the children to endure hunger, they gave them 
but little food ; and, if they stood in need of more, they were obliged to steal 
it ; and, if discovered, they were severely punished, not for the theft, but foi 
their awkwardness. Every ten days, they were required to present themselves 
before the ephori, and whoever was found to be too fat, received a flogging. 
Wine was not generally given to girls in Greece, but was commonly allowed to 
boys from earliest childhood. In Sparta, the boys were obliged to wear the 
hair short, until they attained the age of manhood, when it was suffered to 
grow. They usually ran naked, and were generally dirty, as they did not 
bathe and anoint themselves, like the other Greeks. They took pride in hav 
ing the body covered with marks of bruises and wounds. They wore no outer 
garment, except in bad weather, and no shoes at any time. They were obliged 
to make their beds of rushes from the Eurotas. Till the seventh year, the 
child was kept in the gynseceum, under the care of the women ; from that age 
to the eighteenth year, they were called boys, and thence to the age of thirty, 
youths. In the thirtieth year the Spartan entered the period of manhood, 
and enjoyed the full rights of a citizen. At the age of seven, the boy was 
withdrawn from the paternal care, and educated under the public eye, in com 
pany with others of the same age, without distinction of rank or fortune. If 
any person withheld his son from the care of the state, he forfeited his civil 
rights. The principal object of attention, during the periods of boyhood and 
youth, was the physical education, which consisted in the practice of various 


gymnastic exercises running, leaping, throwing the discus, wrestling, boxing, 
arid the chase. These exercises were performed naked, in certain buildings 
called gymnasia. Besides gymnastics, dancing and the military exercises were 
practiced. A singular custom was the flogging the boys on the annual festival of 
Diana Orthia, for the purpose of inuring them to bear pain with firmness : the 
priestess stood by with a small, light, wooden image of Diana, and if she 
observed that any boy was spared, she called out that the image of the goddess 
was so heavy, that she could not support it, and the blows were then redoubled. 
The men who were present exhorted their sons to fortitude, while the boys en 
deavored to surpass each other in firmness. Whoever uttered the least cry 
during the scourging, which was so severe as sometimes to prove fatal, was 
considered as disgraced, while he who bore it without shrinking was crowned, 
and received the praises of the whole city. According to some, this usage was 
established by Lycurgus ; others refer it to the period of the battle of Plataeae. 
To teach the youth cunning, vigilance and activity, they were encouraged, as 
has been already mentioned, to practice theft in certain cases ; but if detected, 
they were flogged, or obliged to go without food, or compelled to dance round 
an altar, singing songs in ridicule of themselves. The fear of the shame of 
being discovered sometimes led to the most extraordinary acts. Thus it is re 
lated that a boy who had stolen a young fox, and concealed it under his clothes, 
suffered it to gnaw out his bowels, rather than reveal the theft, by suffering the 
fox to escape. Swimming was considered indispensable among them ; they 
had a proverb to intimate that a man was good for nothing, He cannot swim. 
Modesty of deportment was particularly attended to ; and conciseness of lan 
guage was much studied. The Spartans were the only people of Greece who 
despised learning, and excluded it from the education of youth. Their whole 
instrutions consisted in learning obedience to their superiors, the endurance of 
hardships, and to conquer or die in war. The youth were, however, carefully 
instructed in a knowledge of the laws, which, not being reduced to writing, 
were taught orally. The education of females was entirely different from that 
of the Athenians. Instead of remaining at home, as in Athens, spinning, &c., 
they danced in public, wrestled with each other, ran on the course, threw the 
discus, &c. This was not only done in public, but in a half-naked state. The 
object of this training of the women, was to give a vigorous constitution to 
the children.* 

From a valuable work on the manners and customs of ancient Greece, 
by a distinguished English author, to whom we have been indebted in our 
description of the Athenian slavery, we gather some interesting particulars 
relative to the Spartan Helots.f who, he says, were Greeks of the Achaian 
race, who fell together with the land into the power of the conquerors. He 
quotes the remark of Ephoros, that "they were, in a certain point of view, 

* See Muller's History and Antiquities of the Doric race. 

t See Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities. London. 


public slaves ; their possessor could neither liberate them, nor sell them beyond 
the borders." His inference is, that they were the property of individuals, but 
that the state reserved to itself the right of enfranchising them and preventing 
their emancipation, lest persons should be found, who would sell or give them 
their liberty when too old to labor. It is true there was an ancient law pro 
hibiting the exportation of the Helots ; but we find that there was a regular 
trade carried on in females, who were exported into all the neighboring coun 
tries for nurses. Thus it seems that the state exercised the power to convert 
its serfs into merchandize. It is stated that over the Helots, " not the state 
only, but even private individuals, possessed the power of life and death, as 
well as the right of beating and maiming them." 

As the Spartans possessed estates, which personally they never cultivated, 
the Helots were stationed throughout the country upon those estates, which 
it was their business to till for the owners. To live, it was of course necessary 
that they should eat, and therefore a portion of the produce was set aside for 
them, one-half, according to Tyrtaeos, a division not over generous, since 
their numbers were five times greater than those of the Spartans. The learned 
historian Herodotus remarks upon this, " as the quantity had been definitively 
settled at a very early period, to raise the amount being forbidden under very 
heavy imprecations, the Helots were the persons who profited by a good, and 
lost by a bad harvest, which must have been to them an encouragement to in 
dustry and good husbandry ; a motive which would have been wanting, if the 
profit and loss had merely affected the landlords." 

There appear to have been instances of Helots becoming comparatively 
wealthy in spite of the oppressions they endured ; as did the Jews of the mid 
dle ages, notwithstanding the terrible robberies, persecutions and cruelties they 
were subject to. This fact proves that no pressure of hardship or ill-usage 
can entirely destroy the elasticity of the spirit : and no doubt the Helots, like 
all slaves, sought to soften their miseries by a gratification which the sense of 
property procures even in bondage. But of what value is property to a man 
who is himself the property of another ? It appears, however, according to 
Herodotus, that " by means of the rich produce of the land, and in part by 
plunder obtained in war, they collected a considerable property." 

But very little intercourse took place between the Spartans and Helots, at 
least in earlier times. Afterwards, when the masters quitted the capital, took 
to husbandry, and went to reside on their estates, the link must necessarily 
have been more closely drawn. Intercommunion begot more humane feel 
ings in the master, and more attachment in the slave ; for the Spartans felt 
the influence of intimacy, as is proved by their enfranchising the slave com 
panions of their childhood. A certain number of Helots were retained in 
the city as personal attendants, and these waited at the public tables, and were 
lent by one person to another. 

In the military service of the state, the Helots fought and bled by the side of 
their masters. The state was, no doubt, reluctant to admit them among the 

THE I:I:LOT:,. 43 

, or heavy armed, where the discipline was rigorous, and their weapons 
would have placed them on a level with their oppressors. But even this 
was sometimes hazarded, as in the reinforcements forwarded to Gyleppus, at 
Syracuse, when six hundred Neodomades and picked Helots were compli 
mented with this dangerous distinction. As light troops, however, they 
almost invariably formed the major part of the Lacedaemonian forces. In 
other countries, where the subject races were treated more humanely, no fear 
was entertained at entrusting them with arms. Among the Dardanians, for 
example, where it was not uncommon for a private individual to possess a 
thousand slaves, they in time of peace cultivated the land, and in war, tilled 
the ranks of the army. 

Plato, Aristotle, Isocrates, Plutarch, and a number of other writers, agree 
in convicting the Spartans of great barbarity towards their bondmen, differing, 
however, as to the degree of that barbarity. The following passage occurs in 
the work of Myron, of Priene, whose testimony, however, is rejected by 
Miiller : " The Helots perform for the Spartans every ignominious service. 
They are compelled to wear a cap of dog-skin, and a covering of sheep-skin ; 
and are severely beaten every year, without having committed any fault, in 
order that they might never forget that they are slaves. In addition to this, 
those amongst them who, either by their stature or their beauty, raise them 
selves above the ordinary condition of a slave, are condemned to death, and 
the masters who do not destroy the most manly of them are liable to punish 
ment." Plutarch relates that "the Helots were compelled to intoxicate them 
selves, and perform indecent dances, as a warning to the Spartan youth." 
From other authors it appears that it was the constant policy of Sparta to 
demoralize the Helots. They were commanded to sing obscene songs, and 
dance indecent jigs, while the Pyrrhic dance, and every warlike lay were for 
bidden them. It is related, that when the Thebans invaded Laconia and 
made prisoners a number of Helots, they commanded them to sing some of the 
songs of Sparta ; but the Helots professed their inability, observing that the 
acquisition of those lays was forbidden them. In short, to adopt the words 
of Theopompos, they were at all times cruelly and bitterly treated. Critias 
observes, that, as the freemen of Sparta were of all men the most free, so 
were the serfs of Sparta of all slaves the most slavish. They were deluded, 
sometimes, from the protection of sanctuary by perjury, and then assassinated 
in contempt of oaths and religion. But all this harsh usage was mild, com 
pared with other injuries which the laws of Sparta inflicted on them. We 
allude to the institution of the Crypteia. Isocrates describes this annual 
massacre of the Helots, and, with Aristotle, he attributes to the Ephori, 
magistrates, the direction of this servile war, in which the reins of slaughter 
were loosed or tightened by their authority. Plutarch says : "According to 
this ordinance, the Crypteia, the rulers, selecting from among the youths those 
most distinguished for ability, sent them forth armed with daggers and furnish 
ed with the necessary provisions to scour the country, separating and conceal- 


ing themselves by day, in unfrequented places, but issuing out at niglit and 
slaughtering all such of the Helots as they found abroad. Sometimes, 
indeed, they fell upon them while engaged in the labors of the fields, and then 
cut off the best and bravest of the race." Flowing from the same policy, and 
designed to effect the same purpose, were those extensive massacres recorded 
in history, by one of which more than two thousand of those unhappy men, 
having been insidiously deluded into the assertion of sentiments conformable 
to the gallant actions they had performed in the service of the state, were 
removed in a day. Lulled by the gift of freedom, crowned with garlands, 
smiled upon, they were conducted to the temples, as if to implicate the very 
gods in the treachery, and then they disappeared. Their fate was never 

Every year, on taking office, the magistrates formally declared war against 
their unarmed and unhappy slaves, " that they might be massacred under pre 
tence of law." It seems reasonable to believe that these oppressions kindled 
those bloody servile wars which Sparta could not quench without foreign aid. 
The Spartans were, in fact, during many years, prevented from disputing with 
the Athenians the supremacy in Greece, by contests with their own vassals. 
On the occasion of the great earthquake, when nearly every house in Sparta 
was shaken to the ground, the Helots rejoiced at the calamity, and flocked to 
the environs of the city from the whole country around, in order to put an end 
to their tyrants as they were escaping in terror from their tottering habita 

It is known that the Helots were a constant source of terror to their mas 
ters, that whenever occasion offered, they revolted, whenever an enemy to 
the state appeared, they joined him, that they fled whenever flight was possi 
ble, and were so numerous and so bold, that Sparta was compelled, in her 
treaties with foreign states, to stipulate "for aid against her own subjects."* 

The Spartans appear to have possessed other slaves besides the oppressed 
Helots, with whom they have often been confounded. These were not viewed 
with equal dread, since they were brought together from various countries, 
and had no common bond of union. Many of this class were enfranchised, 
and rose to the rank of citizens. Another class of persons, commonly ranked 
among the Laconian slaves, were the Mothaces, whose origin, rank and con 
dition it is difficult to determine. Athenaeus observes, that, although not 
Lacedaemonians, they were free. Miiller, alluding to this passage, says they 
are called free in reference to their future, not their past, condition. The 
words of Philarchos are : " The Mothaces were the brother-like companions 
of the Lacedaemonians. For every youthful citizen, according to his means, 
chose one, two, or more of these to be brought up with him ; and notwithstand 
ing that they enjoyed not the rank of citizens, they were free, and participated 
in all the advantages of the national education. Lysander, who defeated the 

* Muller Dorians, ii, 43. 


Athenians at sea, was one of this class, and was raised for his valor to the 
rank of citizen." Lycurgus laid much less stress on birth and blood, than on 
that steadiness and patience of toil, which are the first qualities of a soldier. 
Whoever from childhood upward gave proof of these, by submitting without 
a murmur to the rigorous trial he enjoined on the youth of Sparta, was 
elevated in the end to the rank of a citizen ; while they who shrunk from 
the severity of his discipline, even though they had descended from royal blood, 
sunk into a state of degradation, or were even confounded with the Helots. 

The Thessalians denominated Penestae, not those who were born in servi 
tude, but persons who were made captives in war. In Crete, the servile caste 
was divided into many classes : first, those of the cities, who were " bought 
with gold," as their name implied, and were doubtless barbarians ; second, 
those of the country, who were bound to the estates of the landed gentry ; 
these were the aboriginal tribes reduced to servitude by their foreign conquer 
ors. In condition they resembled the Helots. Thirdly, there existed in every 
state in Crete, a class of public bondsmen, who cultivated the public lands, 
upon what conditions is not exactly known. They were sufficiently numerous 
and powerful to inspire their masters with dread, as is evident by the regula 
tion which excluded them from the gymnasia, and prohibited the use of arms. 

In the city of Cydonia during certain festivals of Hermes, the slaves were 
left masters of the place, into which no free citizen had permission to enter ; 
and if he infringed this regulation, they had the power to chastise him with 
whips. In other parts of Crete, customs similar to those of the Roman 
Saturnalia prevailed; for, while the slaves in the Hermsean festival were 
carousing and taking their ease, their lords, in the guise of domestics, waited 
upon them at table, and performed in their stead all other menial offices. Some 
thing of the same kind took place during the month Gercestion, at Trcezen, 
where the citizens feasted their slaves on one particular day of the great annual 
festival, and played at dice with them. Among the Babylonians we find a similar 
custom ; for, during the Sacsean festival, which lasted five days, the masters waited 
on their slaves, one of whom, habited in a royal robe, enacted the part of king. 

It is stated that the condition and treatment of the Cretan serfs, were better 
than in any other Doric state ; and that the Periceci of Crete never revolted 
against their masters. 

The serfs of the Syracusans were so exceedingly numerous that their num 
bers became a proverb. They would seem to have dwelt chiefly in the country. 
In process of time their multitude inspired them with courage ; they assaulted 
and drove out their masters, and retained possession of Syracuse. 

Respecting the servile classes in other Grecian states, our information is 
scanty. The corresponding class among the Arcadians is said to have amounted 
to three hundred thousand in number. Their treatment was probably more 
lenient than in some other parts of Greece, as at public festivals we find them 
sitting at the same table, eating the same food, and drinking from the same 
cup with their masters. 


tf I.-* *,>;#..*>.*. JjWii. .ygy^ft ,$ Kg, .*.y.> WB ^ > ,. , : . 

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Slavery under the kings and in the early ages of the Republic. Its spread, and effect on 
the poorer class of Freemen. The Licinian law. Prevalence of the two extremes, im 
mense wealth and abject poverty. Immense number of Slaves in Sicily. They revolt. 
Eunus, their leader. Their arms. Horrible atrocities committed by them. The in 
surrection crushed. Fate of Eunus. Increase of Slaves in Rome. Their employment 
in the arts. Numbers trained for the Amphitheatre. The Gladiators rebel. Sparta- 
cus, his history. Laws passed to restrain the cruelty of masters. Effects of Christi 
anity on their condition. Their numbers increased by the invasion of northern hordes. 
Sale of prisoners of war into slavery. Slave-dealers follow the armies. Foreign 
Slave trade. Slave auctions. The Slave markets. Value of Slaves at different peri 
ods. Slaves owned by the State, and their condition and occupations. Private Slaves, 
their grades and occupations. Treatment of Slaves, public and private. Punishment 
of offenses. Fugitives and Criminals. Festival of Saturnus, their privileges. Their 
dress. Their sepulchres. The Gladiators, their combats. 


O LAVES existed at Rome in the earliest times of which we have any re 
cord ; but they do not appear to have been numerous under the kings and in 
the earliest ages of the Republic. The different trades and the mechanic arts 
were chiefly carried on by the clients of the patricians ; and the small farms 
in the country were cultivated for the most part by the labors of the proprie 
tor and of his family. But as the territories of the Roman state were extended, 
the patricians obtained possession of large estates out of the public domain ; 
since it was a practice of the Romans to deprive a conquered people of a part 
of their lands. These estates required a larger number of hands for their cul 
tivation than could readily be obtained among the free population, and since 
the freemen were constantly liable to be called away from their work to serve 
in the armies, the lands began to be cultivated almost entirely by slave labor. 
Through war and commerce, slaves could be obtained easily, and at a cheap 
rate, and their numbers soon became so great, that the poorer class of freemen 
was thrown almost entirely out of employment. This state of things was one 
of the chief arguments used by Licinius and the Gracchi for limiting the quan 
tity of public land which a person might possess. In the Licinian Rogations 
there was a provision that a certain number of freemen should be employed on 
every estate. This regulation, however, was of little avail, as the lands still 
continued to be cultivated almost exclusively by slaves. The elder Gracchus, 
in traveling through Italy, was led to observe the evils which slavery inflicted 
upon the provinces of his country. The great body of the people were im 
poverished. Instead of little farms studding the country with their pleasant 
aspect, and nursing an independent race, he beheld nearly all the lands of 
Italy monopolized by large proprietors ; and the plow was in the hands of 
slaves. This was one hundred and thirty-four years before the Christian era. 
The palaces of the wealthy towered in solitary grandeur : the freemen hia 
themselves in miserable hovels. Deprived of the dignity of proprietors, they 


were compelled to labor in competition with slaves Excepting with the im 
mensely rich, and the feeble and decreasing class of independent husbandmen, 
poverty was extreme. This state of things existed at a time when Rome was 
considered mistress of the world, and the rulers of Egypt had exalted the Ro 
mans above the immortal gods. 

In the latest times of the republic, we find that Julius Caesar attempted a 
remedy, to some extent, by enacting that of those persons who attended to cat 
tle, a third, at least, should be freemen. In Sicily, which supplied Rome with 
so great a quantity of corn, the number of agricultural slaves was immense. 
The oppressions to which they were exposed, drove them twice to rebellion, 
and their numbers enabled them to defy, for a time, the Roman power. The 
first of these servile wars began in B. C. 134, and lasted two years ; the second 
commenced thirty years later, and lasted four years. The Sicilians treated 
their slaves with extraordinary rigor, branding them like cattle, and compell 
ing them to toil incessantly for their masters. The history of the revolt offers 
numerous points of resemblance to that of Chios, already related ; though Eu- 
nus, the leader of the Sicilian slaves, cannot be compared with Drimacos, 
either for character or abilities. Eunus, by visions and pretended prophecies, 
excited the slaves to insurrection ; and his conduct, and that of his followers, 
when they took possession of the city of Euna, presented a striking contrast 
to the moderation of the Chian slaves. They pillaged the houses, and, with 
out distinction of age or sex, slaughtered the inhabitants, plucking infants from 
their mother's breasts, and dashing them on the ground. The number of the 
insurgents at one time amounted to 60,000 men, who, armed with axes, slings, 
stakes, and cooking spits, defeated several armies. Pursuing them, however, 
without relaxation, the state at length prevailed, utterly crushed the insurrec 
tion, and carried Eunus a prisoner to Rome, where, according to Plutarch, he- 
was devoured by vermin. 

Long after it had become the custom to employ large gangs of slaves in the 
cultivation of the land, the number of those who served as personal attendants 
was very small. Persons in good circumstances seem usually to have had only 
one to wait upon them, who was generally called by the name of the master. 
But during the latter times of the republic and under the empire, the number 
of domestic slaves greatly increased, and in every family of importance there 
were separate slaves to attend to all the duties of domestic life. It was con 
sidered a reproach to a man not to keep a considerable number of slaves. The 
first question asked respecting a person's fortune, was an inquiry as to the num 
ber of his slaves. Horace seems to speak of ten slaves as the lowest number 
which a person in tolerable circumstances ought to keep. The immense num 
ber of prisoners taken in the constant wars of the republic, and the increase of 
wealth and luxury, augmented the number of slaves to a prodigious extent 
The statement of Athenseus that very many Romans possessed 10,000 and 
20,000 slaves, and even more, is probably an exaggeration ; but a freedman 
under Augustus, who had lost much property in the civil wars, left at his death 


as many as 4,116.* Two hundred was no uncommon number for a person to 

The mechanic arts, which were formerly in the hands of the clients, were 
now entirely exercised by slaves : J a natural growth of things, for where slaves 
perform certain labors, such labor will be thought degrading to freemen. The 
games of the amphitheatre required an immense number of slaves trained for 
the purpose. Like the slaves in Sicily, the Gladiators of Italy rose in rebel 
lion against their oppressors, || and under the able generalship of Spartacus, 
defeated a Roman consular army, and were not subdued until after a struggle 
of two years, and when 60,000 of them had fallen in battle. 

Spartacus was a Thracian by birth, and had been compelled, like other bar 
barians, to serve in the Roman army, from which he had deserted, and, at the 
head of a body of chosen companions, had carried on a partisan war against 
the conquerors. Being made prisoner, Spartacus was sold as a slave ; and his 
strength and size caused him to be reserved as a gladiator. He was placed in 
a gladiatorial school at Capua, with two hundred other Thracian, German and 
Gaulish slaves, among whom a conspiracy was formed for effecting their escape. 
Their plot was discovered ; but a small body, under Spartacus, broke out, and, 
having procured arms, and gained some advantages over the Roman forces 
sent against them, they were soon joined by the slaves and peasantry of the 
neighborhood, and their numbers amounted to 10,000 men. By the courage and 
skill of Spartacus, several considerable battles were gained ; but his authority 
was insufficient to restrain the ferocity and licentiousness of his followers, and 
the cities of the south of Italy were pillaged with the most revolting atroci 
ties. In a few months, Spartacus found himself at the head of 60,000 men; 
and the consuls were now sent, with two legions, against the revolted slaves. 
Mutual jealousies divided the leaders of the latter, and the Gauls and Ger 
mans formed a separate body under their own leaders, while the Thracians and 
Lucanians adhered to Spartacus. The former were defeated ; but Spartacus 
skillfully covered their retreat, and successively defeated the two consuls. 
Flushed with success, his followers demanded to be led against Rome ; and 
the city trembled before the servile forces. In this crisis, Licinius Cras- 
sus, who was afterwards a triumvir, was placed at the head of the army. His 
lieutenant, Mummius, whom he dispatched with two legions to watch the mo 
tions of the enemy, was defeated by a superior force, and slain. Crassus, after 
having made an example of the" defeated legions, by executing every tenth 
man, surrounded Spartacus, near Rhegium, with a ditch six miles in length. 
Spartacus broke through the enemy by night ; but Crassus, who did not doubt 
that he would march upon' Rome, pursued him, and defeated a considerable 
part of his forces, who had abandoned their general from disaffection. Spar 
tacus now retreated ; but his followers compelled him to lead them against the 

* Pliny, f Horace, t Cicero. || B. C. 73 years. 



Romans. His soldiers fought with a courage deserving success ; but they were 
overcome, after an obstinate conflict, and Spartacus himself fell fighting on his 
knees, upon a heap of his slain enemies. According to the Roman statements, 
60,000 rebels fell in this battle, 6000 were made prisoners, and crucified on the 
Appian way. A considerable number escaped, and continued the war, but 
were finally destroyed by Pompey. 

Under the empire various enactments were made to restrain the cruelty of 
masters towards their slaves ; but the spread of Christianity tended most t. 
ameliorate their condition, though the possession of them was for a long time 
by no means condemned as contrary to Christian justice. The Christian writers, 
however, inculcate the duty of acting towards them as we would be acted by ; 
but down to the age of Theodosius, wealthy persons still continued to keep as 
many as two or three thousand.* Justinian did much to promote the ultimate 
extinction of slavery ; but the number of slaves was again increased by the 
invasion of the northern barbarians, who not only brought with them their 
own slaves, who were chiefly Sclavonians, but also reduced many of the inhab 
itants of the conquered provinces to the condition of slaves. But all the 
various classes of slaves became merged in the course of time into the serfs 
of the Middle Ages. 

The sources from which the Romans obtained slaves, have already been 
noticed. Under the republic one of the chief supplies was prisoners taken in 
war, who were sold by the quaestorsf with a crown on their heads, and 
usually on the spot where they were taken, as the care of a large number of 
captives was inconvenient. Consequently, slave-dealers generally accompanied 
an army, and frequently after a great battle had been gained, many thousands 
were sold at once, when the slave-dealers obtained them for a mere trifle. In 
the camp of Lucullus on one occasion, slaves were sold for a sum equal to 
about eighty cents of our money. 

The slave trade was also carried on to a great extent, and after the fall of 
Corinth and Carthage, Delos was the chief mart for this traffic. When the 
Cilician pirates had possession of the Mediterranean, as many as 10,000 slave? 
are said to have been imported and sold there in one day.| A large number 
came from Thrace and the countries in the north of Europe, but the chief sup 
ply was from Africa, and more especially Asia, whence we read of Phyrgians, 
Lycians, Cappadocians, &c., as slaves. 

The trade of slave-dealers was considered disreputable, and expressly dis 
tinguished from that of merchants ; but it was very lucrative, and great fortunes 
were made by it. The slave-dealer Thoranius, who lived in the time of Augus 
tus, was a well-known character 

Slaves were usually sold by auction at Rome ; and, as we have observed of 
the Greek auctions, they were conducted very much like those of our southern 
cities. They were placed on a raised stone, or table, so that every one might 

*Chrysost. vol. vii, 633. fPlaut. J Strab. xiv, 668. 



see and handle them, even if they did not wish to purchase them. Purchasers 
took care to have them stripped, for slave-dealers had recourse to as many 
tricks to conceal personal defects, as a horse-jockey of modern times. Some 
times purchasers called in the advice of medical men. Slaves of great beauty 
and rarity were not exhibited to public gaze in the slave market, but were 
shown to purchasers in private. Newly imported slaves had their feet whitened 
with paint;* and those that came from the East had their ears bored, t 
which was a sign of slavery among many eastern nations. 

The slave market, like all other markets, was under the jurisdiction of the 
aediles, who made many regulations, by edicts, respecting the sale of slaves. 
The character of the slave to be sold, was set forth on a scroll, hanging around 
his neck, which was a warranty to the purchaser ; the vendor was bound to 
announce fairly all his defects, and if he gave a false account, had to take him 
back, any time within six months after he was sold, or make up to the pur 
chaser what the latter had lost by obtaining an inferior article to what had 
been warranted. The vendor might, however, use general terms of commen 
dation without being obliged to make them good. The chief points which he 
had to warrant was the health of the slave, especially freedom from epilepsy, 
and that he had not a tendency to thieving, running away, or committing sui 
cide. The nation of a slave was considered important, and had to be set forth 
by the vendor. Slaves sold without any warranty, wore at the time a cap 
upon their head. Slaves newly imported were generally preferred for common 
work ; those who had served long were considered artful. 

The value of slaves depended of course upon their qualifications ; but under 
the empire, the increase of luxury, and the corruption of morals, led purchasers 
to pay immense sums for beautiful slaves, or such as ministered to the caprice 
or whim of the purchaser. Martial speaks of beautiful boys who sold for as 
much as 100,000 or 200,000 sesterces each; that is, from 4,000 to 8,000 dol 
lars. A morio, or fool, sometimes sold for 20,000 sesterces. Slaves who 
possessed a knowledge of any art which might bring in profit to their owners, 
also sold for a large sum. Thus scribes and doctors frequently sold high, and 
also slaves fitted for the stage, as we see from Cicero's speech in behalf of 
Roscius. A class of female slaves, who brought in gain to their masters, were 
also dear. The price of a good ordinary slave, in the time of Horace, was 
about equal to ninety dollars of our money. In the fourth century, a slave, 
capable of bearing arms, was valued at 25 aurei, (equal in weight to $125 in 
gold.) In the time of Justinian, the legal valuation of slaves was as follows: 
common slaves, both male and female, were valued at 20 solidi, (about $100,) 
under ten years of age, half that sum ; if they were artificers, they were worth 
fifty per cent, more ; if notarii, (short hand writers), they were worth 50 solidi; 
if medical men or midwives, 60. Female slaves, unless possessed of personal 
attractions, were generally cheaper than males. Under the republic, and in 

~ ^ 

* Pliny. t Juvenal. 


the early days of the empire, it was found cheaper to purchase than to breed 

Slaves were divided into many various classes : the first division was into 
public and private. The former belonged to the state and public bodies, and 
their condition was preferable to that of the common slaves. They were less 
liable to be sold, and under less control than ordinary slaves. They also 
possessed the capacity to make a valid will, to the extent of one-half of their 
property, which shows they were regarded in a different light from other slave. . 
Scipio, therefore, on the taking of Nova Carthage, promised 2000 artisans, 
who were taken prisoners, and were consequently liable to be sold as common 
slaves, that they shoald become public slaves of the Roman people, with the 
nope of speedy manumission, if they assisted him in the war.* Public slaves 
were employed to take care of the public buildings, and to attend upon magis 
trates and priests. Thus the aediles and quaestors had great numbers of public 
slaves at their command, as had also the triumviri nocturni, who employed 
them to extinguish fires by night. They were also employed as lictors, jailors, 
executioners, watermen, &c. 

A body of slaves belonging to one person was called familia. Private 
slaves were divided into urban and rustic ; but the name of urban was given 
to those slaves who served in the villa, or country residence, as well as in the 
town house. When there was a large number of slaves in one house, they 
were arranged in certain classes, which held a higher or lower rank according 
to the nature of their occupation. 

The ordinarii seem to have been those slaves who had the superintendence 
of house-keeping. They were always chosen from those who had the confi 
dence of their masters, and they generally had certain slaves under them. 
They were the stewards and butlers. The vulgares included the great body of 
slaves in a house who had to attend to any particular duty, and to minister to 
the domestic wants of their master. These were the bakers, cooks, confec 
tioners, porters, bed-chamber slaves and litter bearers. The literati, or lite 
rary slaves, were used for various purposes by their masters, either as readers, 
copyists or amanuenses. 

The treatment of slaves varied of course according to the dispositions of 
their masters; but they appear upon the whole to have been treated with 
greater severity and cruelty than among the Athenians. Originally, the mas 
ter could use the slave as he pleased : under the republic, the law does not 
seem to have protected the person or life of the slave at all ; but the cruelty 
of masters was to some extent restrained under the empire. The general 
treatment of slaves, however, was probably little affected by legislative enact 
ments. In early times, when the number of slaves was small, they were 
treated with more indulgence, and more like members of the family. They 

*Livy, xxvi, 47. 


joined their masters in offering up thanksgivings and prayer to the gods,* 
and partook of their meals in common with their masters, f though not at the 
same table with them, but upon benches placed at the foot of the couch. But 
with the increase of numbers, and of luxury among the masters, the ancient 
simplicity of manners was changed. A certain quantity of food was allowed 
them, which was granted either monthly or daily. Their chief food was the 
grain called /or, of which the allowance was about one quart per day. They 
also had an allowance of salt and oil. Meat seems to have been hardly ever 
given them. 

Under the republic, they were not allowed to serve in the army ; though 
after the battle of Cana3, when the state was in such imminent danger, 8000 
slaves were purchased by the state for the army, and subsequently manumitted 
on account of their bravery. J 

The offenses of slaves were punished with severity, and frequently with the 
utmost barbarity. One of the mildest punishments was that of degrading 
them in rank, and obliging them to work in fetters. They were frequently 
beaten with sticks or scourged with the whip; but these were such every-day 
punishments that many slaves ceased to care for them. 

Runaway slaves (fugitivi) and thieves were branded on the forehead with 
a mark. Slaves were also punished by being hung up by their hands, with 
weights attached to their feet, or by being sent to the ergastulum, or private 
prison, to work in chains. The toilet of the Roman ladies was a dreadful 
ordeal to the female slaves, who were often barbarously punished by their mis 
tresses for the slightest mistake in the arrangement of the hair or a part of the 
dress. Masters might work their slaves as many hours in the day as they 
pleased, but they usually allowed them holidays on the public festivals. At 
the festival of Saturnus, in particular, special indulgences were granted to all 
slaves. This festival fell towards the end of December, at the season when 
the agricultural labors of the year were fully completed. It was celebrated 
in ancient times by the rustic population as a sort of joyous harvest home, and 
in every age was viewed by all classes of the community as a period of absolute 
relaxation and unrestrained merriment. During its continuance no public 
business could be transacted ; the law courts were closed ; the schools kept 
holiday ; to commence a war was impious ; to punish a malefactor involved 
pollution. Special indulgences were granted to the slaves of each domestic 
establishment ; they were relieved from all ordinary toils, were permitted to 
wear the badge of freedom, were granted full freedom of speech, partook of a 
banquet attired in the clothes of their masters, who waited upon them at 
table. || 

There was no distinctive dress for slaves. It was once proposed in the Sen 
ate to give slaves a distinctive costume, but it was rejected, as it was considered 

* Horace. f Plutarch. t Liyy, xxii, 57 ; xxiv 14, 16. 

D Macrob.: Dion Cass.: Horace: Martial. 


dangerous to show them their numbers. Male slaves were not allowed to wear 
the toga or bulla, nor females the stola, but otherwise they were dressed nearly 
in the same way as poor people, in clothes of a dark color and slippers. 

Gibbon estimates the population of the Roman empire in the time of Clau 
dius at one hundred and twenty millions : sixty millions of freemen and sixty 
millions of slaves. The proportion of slaves was much larger in Italy than in 
the provinces, according to Milman. Robertson states that there were twice 
as many slaves as free citizens, and Blair estimates three slaves to one freeman, 
between the conquest of Greece, B. C. 146, and the reign of Alexander Severus, 
A. D. 222, 235. Milman is inclined to " adopt the more cautious suggestions 
of Gibbon." 

As the Romans regarded slavery as an institution of society, death was con 
sidered to put an end to the distinction between slaves and freemen. Slaves 
were sometimes even buried with their masters, and we find funeral inscriptions 
addressed to the Dii Manes of slaves. In 1726 the burial vaults of the slaves 
belonging to Augustus and Li via were discovered near the Appian Way, where 
numerous inscriptions were found, which give us considerable information re 
specting the different classes of slaves and their various occupations. Other 
sepulchres of the same time have been discovered in the neighborhood of 

We have already referred to the immense number of slaves trained for gladi 
ators. A more particular description of this class will, be interesting to the 
general reader, and will serve to elucidate the manners, customs and morals of 
their masters. The gladiators, however, were not all slaves. The term is 
applied to the combatants who fought in the amphitheatre and other places, 
for the amusement of the Roman people. They are said to have been first 
exhibited by the Etruscans, and to have had their origin in the custom of kill 
ing slaves and captives at the funeral pyres of the deceased. A show of glad 
iators was called munus, and the person who exhibited it, editor, or munerator, 
who was honored during the day of exhibition, if a private person, with the 
insignia of a magistrate. 

Gladiators were first exhibited at Rome in B. C. 264, in the Forum Boarium. 
by Marcus and Decimus Brutus, at the funeral of their father. They were at 
first confined to public funerals, but afterwards fought at the funerals of most 
persons of consequence, and even at those of women. Private persons some 
times left a sum of money in their will to pay the expenses of such an exhibition 
at their funerals. Combats of gladiators were also exhibited at entertainments, 
and especially at public festivals by the sediles and other magistrates, who 
sometimes exhibited immense numbers with a view of pleasing the people. 
Under the empire the passions of the Romans for this amusement rose to its 
greatest height, and the number of gladiators who fought on some occasions 
appears almost incredible. After Trajan's triumph over the Dacians, there were 
more than 10,000 exhibited.* 

* Dion Cass. lxviii,15. 


Gladiators consisted either of captives, slaves and condemned malefactors, 
or of free born citizens who fought voluntarily. Of those who were condemned, 
some wei'e said to be condemned ad gladium, in which case they were obliged 
to be killed within a year , and others ad ludum, who might obtain their dis 
charge at the end of three years. Freemen, who became gladiators for hire, 
were called auctorati. Even under the republic, free born citizens fought as 
gladiators, but they appear to have belonged only to the lower orders. Under 
the empire, however, both equites and senators fought in the arena ; and even 
women, which was at length forbidden in the time of Severus. Gladiators 
were kept in schools, where they were trained by persons called lanistce. They 
sometimes were the property of the lanistae, who let them out to persons who 
wished to exhibit a show of gladiators ; but at other times belonged to citi 
zens, who kept them for the purpose of exhibition, and engaged lanistae to 
instruct them. The superintendence of the schools which belonged to the 
emperors, was intrusted to a person of high rank, called curator or procurator. 
The gladiators fought in these schools with wooden swords. Great attention 
was paid to their diet, in order to increase the strength of their bodies. They 
were fed with nourishing food ; and a great number were trained at Ravenna 
on account of the salubrity of the place. 

The person who was to exhibit a show of gladiators, published bills contain 
ing the numbers and sometimes the names of those who were to fight. When 
the day came, they were led along the arena in procession, and matched by 
pairs ; and their swords were examined by the exhibitor to see if they were 
sufficiently sharp. At first there was a kind of sham battle, called prelusio, 
in which they fought with wooden swords ; and afterwards, at the sound of the 
trumpet, the real battle began. When a gladiator was wounded, the people 
called out habet, or hoc habet ; and the one who was vanquished, lowered his 
arms in token of submission. His fate, however, depended upon' the audience, 
who pressed down their thumbs if they wished him to be saved, and turned them 
up if they wished him to be killed, and ordered him to receive the fatal sword, 
which they usually did with the greatest firmness. If the life of a vanquished 
gladiator was spared, he obtained his discharge for that day. In some exhibi 
tions, the lives of the conquered were never spared ; but this kind was forbid 
den by Augustus. 

Palms were given to the victorious ; money was also sometimes given. Old 
gladiators, and sometimes those who had fought only for a short time, were dis 
charged from the service by the editor at the request of the people, who pre 
sented each of them with a wooden sword. If a person was free before he 
entered the school, he became free again on his discharge ; if he was a slave, 
he became a slave again. A man, however, who had voluntarily become a gla 
diator, was always considered to have disgraced himself; and consequently it 
appears he could not attain the equestrian ranks, if he afterwards acquired 
sufficient property to entitle him to it. 

Shows of gladiators were abolished by Constantino, but appear, notwitb- 


standing, to have been generally exhibited until the time of Honorius, by whom 
they were finally suppressed. 

Gladiators were divided into different classes, according to their arms and 
different mode of fighting, and other circumstances. One class wore helmets 
without any aperture for the eyes, so that they were obliged to fight blindfold, 
and thus excited the mirth of the spectators ; another class fought with two 
swords ; another on horseback ; another from chariots, like the Gauls and Brit 
ons. The laqueators used a noose to catch their adversaries. The meridiani 
fought in the middle of the day, after the combats with the wild beasts in 
the morning. The retiarii carried only a three-pointed lance, and a net, which 
they endeavored to throw over their adversaries, and then attack them with the 
trident while they were entangled. If he missed his aim in throwing the net, 
he fled and endeavored to prepare his net for another cast, while his adversary 
followed him round the arena in order to kill him before he could make a sec 
ond attempt. The Thraces were armed with a round shield, and a short sword 
or dagger. When a gladiator was killed, the attendants, appointed for the 
purpose, dragged the body out of the arena with iron hooks. 



Abstract of the laws in regard to Slavery. Power of Life and Death. Cruelty of Mas 
ters. Laws to protect the Slave. Constitution of Antoninus : of Claudius. Husband 
and Wife could not be separated ; nor parents and children. Slave could not contract 
marriage, nor own property. His peculium, or private property, held only by usage. 
Regulations in respect to it. Master liable for damages for wrongful acts of his Slave. 
-The murderer of a slave, liable for a capital offense, or for damages. Fugitive Slaves, 
not lawfully harbored ; to conceal them, theft. Master entitled to pursue them. Du 
ties of the authorities. Slave hunters. Laws defining the condition of children born 
of Slaves. Laws to reduce free persons to Slavery. How the state of Slavery might 
be terminated ; by manumission ; by special enactments ; what Slaves entitled to free 
dom. Practice of giving liberty to Slaves in times of civil tumult and revolution. 
Effects of Slavery under the Republic, and under the Empire. 

E now proceed to give an abstract of the laws in regard to Slavery. Ac 
cording to the strict principles of the Roman law, it was a consequence of the 
relation of master and slave, that the master could treat the slave as he pleased ; 
he could sell him, punish him, or put him to death. Positive morality, however, 
and the social intercourse that must always subsist between a master and the 
slaves who are immediately about him, ameliorated the condition of slavery. 
Still, we read of acts of great cruelty committed by masters in the later re 
publican and earlier imperial periods, and the Lex Petronia was enacted in 
order to protect the slave. The original power of life and death over a slave, 


was limited by a constitution of Antoninus, which enacted, that, if a man put 
his slave to death without sufficient reason, he was liable to the same penalty 
as if he had killed another man's slave. The same constitution also prohibited 
the cruel treatment of slaves by their masters, by enacting that, if the cruelty of 
the master was intolerable, he might be compelled to sell the slave ; and the 
slave was empowered to make his complaint to the proper authority. A con 
stitution of Claudius enacted, that if a man exposed his slaves, who were 
iulirm, they should become free ; and the constitution also declared, that if 
they were put to death, the act should be murder. It was also enacted, that 
in sales or division of property, slaves, such as husband and wife, parents and 
children, brothers and sisters, should not be separated.* 

A slave could hot contract a marriage, and no legal relation between a 
father and his children was recognized. Still nearness of blood was considered 
an impediment to marriage after manumission : thus, a manumitted slave could 
not marry his manumitted sister. 

A slave could have no property. He was not incapable of acquiring pro 
perty, but his acquisitions belonged to his master ; which Galus considers to 
be a rule of the Jus Gentium, that is, " the law which natural reason has es 
tablished among all mankind." Slaves were not only employed in the usual 
domestic offices and in the labors of the field, but also as factors or agents for 
their masters in the management of business, and as mechanics, artisans, and 
in every branch of industry. It may be easily conceived, that under these cir 
cumstances, especially as they were often intrusted with property to a large 
amount, there must have arisen a practice of allowing the slave to consider 
a part of his gains as his own. This was his " peculium ; " according to strict 
law, this was the property of the master, but according to usage, it was con 
sidered the property of the slave. Sometimes it was agreed between master 
and slave, that the slave should purchase his freedom with his peculium, when 
it amounted to a certain sum. If a slave was manumitted by the owner in his 
life-time, the peculium was considered to be given with the liberty, unless it 
was expressly retained. Transactions of borrowing and lending could take 
place between the master and slave with respect to the peculium, though no 
right of action arose on either side out of such dealings. In case of the claim 
of creditors on the slave's peculium, the debt of the slave to the master was 
first taken into the account, and deducted from the peculium. The master was 
only bound by the acts and dealings of the slave, when the slave was employed 
as his agent or instrument. 

It is a consequence of the relation of slave and master, that the master 
acquired no rights against the slave in consequence of his wrongful acts. 
Other persohs might obtain rights against a slave in consequence of his crimes, 
but their right could not be prosecuted by action until the slave was manumit- 

*Cod., 3, title 38, s. 11. 


ted. They had, however, a right of action against the slave's master for dam 
ages, and if the master would not pay the damages, he must give up the slave. 
The slave was protected against injury from other persons. If the slave was 
killed, the master might either prosecute the killer for a capital offense, or sue 
for damages. The master had an action against those who corrupted his slave, 
and led him into bad practices, and could recover twice the amount of the es 
timated damage. The female slaves were protected by the master's right of 

A fugitive slave conld not lawfully be received or harbored ; to conceal him 
was theft. The master was entitled to pursue him wherever he pleased ; and 
it was the duty of all authorities to give him aid in recovering his slave. It 
was the object of various laws to check the running away of slaves in every 
way, and, accordingly, a runaway slave could not legally be an object of sale. 
A class of persons made it a business to capture fugitive slaves. The rights 
of the master over the slave were in no way affected by his running away. 

A person was born a slave whose mother was a slave at the time of his 
birth. At a later period the rule of law was established, that though a woman 
at the time of the birth might be a slave, still her child was free, if the mother 
had been free at any time within the nine months preceding the birth. In 
the cases of children who were the offspring of a free parent and a slave, 
positive law provided whether the children should be free or slaves. 

A person became a slave by capture in war, (also jure gentium.) Captives 
were sold, as belonging to the public treasury, or distributed among the sol 
diers by lot. A free person might become a slave in various ways, in conse 
quence of positive law, (jure civili). This was the case with those who 
refused or neglected to be registered in the census, and those who evaded 
military service. In certain cases a man became a slave, if he allowed himself 
to be sold as such in order to defraud the purchaser. 

Under the empire the rule was established, that persons condemned to 
death, to the mines, and to fight with wild beasta, lost their freedom, and their 
property was confiscated. But this was not the earlier law. A freedman who 
misconducted himself towards his patron, was reduced to his former state of 

The state of slavery was terminated by manumission. It was also termi 
nated by various positive enactments, either by way of reward to the slave or 
punishment to the master. Freedom was given to slaves who discovered the 
perpetrators of certain crimes. After the establishment of Christianity, liberty 
might be acquired, subject to certain limitations, by becoming a monk or a 
spiritual person ; but if the person left his monastery for a secular life, or 
rambled about in the towns or the country, he might be reduced to his former 
servile condition. 

In times of revolution under the republic, it was not unusual to proclaim the 
liberty of slaves to induce them to join in revolt ; but these were irregular 
proceedings, and neither justifiable nor examples for imitation. Lord Dun- 


more, the last British governor of Virginia, at the commencement of the 

American Revolution, followed this example. 

We have now exhibited to the reader the principal features of slavery in 
Rome. We have seen the origin, numbers and condition of the slaves, their 
treatment, and the laws that governed them. We have seen the general prev 
alence of the institution, but not its effects upon the Romans themselves, and 
upon many of the prominent events of their history. To such as may feel in 
terested in this branch of the subject, we present the views of an able writer 
upon the Influence of Slavery on the Revolutions in Rome. We have already 
referred to the condition of the poorer class of freemen in the time of the elder 
Gracchus. The writer proceeds : 

.<>:- :/ ^ *-y- ,- Jfcsi.*,- ':?. v.r. y- 

' Gracchus found the inhabitants of the Roman State divided into three classes. The 
few wealthy nobles ; the many indigent citizens ; the still more numerous class of slaves. 
Reasoning upon the subject, he perceived that it was slavery which crowded the poor 
freeman out of employment, and barred the way to his advancement. It was the aim 
of Gracchus, not so much to mend the condition of the slaves, as to lift the brood of idle 
persons into dignity ; to give them land, to put the plow into their hands, to make them 
industrious and useful, and so to repose on them the liberties of the State. He resolved 
to increase the number of landed proprietors ; to create a Roman yeomanry. This was 
the basis of his radical reform ; the means were at hand. The lands of Italy were of two 
classes ; private estates and the public domain. With private estates he refused to inter 
fere. The public domains, even though they had been usurped by the patricians, wore to 
be reclaimed as public property, and to be appropriated to the use of the people, under 
restrictions which should prevent their future concentration in the hands of the few. 
To effect this object required no new order ; the proper decree was already engraved 
among the tablets of the Roman laws. It was necessary only to revive the law of 
Lioinius, which had slumbered for two centuries unrepealed. 

In a republic, he that will execute great designs, must act with an organized party. 
Gracchus took counsel with the purest men of Rome ; with Appius Claudius, his fatner 
in-law, a patrician of the purest blood ; with the great lawyer, Mutiv s Scaevola, a man 
of consular dignity, and with Crassus, the leader of the priesthood ; men of che best 
learning and character, of unimpeachable patriotism, and friends to the new reform. 
But his supporters at the polls could be none other than the common people, composed 
of the impoverished citizens, and the very few husbandmen who had still saved some 
scanty acres from the grasp of the aristocracy. 

The people rallied to the support of their champion ; and Gracchus, being elected 
their tribune, was able to bring forward his Agrarian Law. This law, relating only to the 
public domain, was distinguished by mitigating clauses. To each of those who had 
occupied the land without a right, it generously left five hundred acres ; to each of 
their minor children, two hundred and fifty more ; and it also promised to make from 
the public treasury further remuneration for improvements. To every needy citizen it 
probably allotted not more than ten acres. Thus it was designed to create in Italy a 
yeomanry ; instead of planters and slaves, to substitute free laborers ; to plant liberty 
firmly in the land ; to perpetuate the Roman Commonwealth, by identifying its princi 
ples with the culture of the soil. No pursuit is more worthy of freemen than agricul 
ture. Gracchus claimed it for the free. 

Philanthropy, when it contemplates a slave-holding country, may have its first sym 
pathies excited for the slaves ; but it is narrow benevolence which stops there. The 


indigent freeman is in a worse condition. The slave has his task, and also his home 
and his bread. He is the member of a wealthy family. The indigent freeman has 
neither labor, nor house, nor food ; and, divided by a broad gulf from the upper class, 
he has neither hope nor ambition. The poor freeman claims sympathy; he is so abject, 
that often even the slave despises him. The slave-holder is the competitor of the free 
laborer, and by the lease of slaves, takes the bread from his mouth. The wealthy Cras- 
sus, the richest man in Rome, was the competitor of the poorest free carpenter. The 
Roman patricians took away the business of the sandal-maker. The existence of slavery 
made the opulent owners of bondmen the rivals of the poor ; greedy after the profits 
of their labor, and monopolizing those profits through their slaves. 

The laws of Gracchus cut the patricians with a double edge. Their fortunes consisted 
in land and slaves ; it questioned their titles to the public land, and tended to force 
emancipation by making their slaves a burden. In taking away the soil, it took away 
the power that kept their live machinery in motion. 

The moment was a real crisis in the affairs of Rome ; such a crisis as hardly occurs to 
a nation in the progress of many centuries. Men are in the habit of proscribing Julius 
Caesar as the destroyer of the Commonwealth. The civil wars, the revolutions of Caesar, 
the miserable vicissitudes of the Roman emperors, the avarice of the nobles and the 
rabble, the crimes of the forum and the palace, all have their germ in the ill success 
of the reform of Gracchus. 

We pass over the proofs of moderation which the man of the people exhibited, by 
appearing in the Senate, where he had hoped to obtain from the justice of the patricians 
some reasonable compromise. The attempt of the aristocracy to check all procedures in 
the assembly of the people, by instigating another tribune to interpose his veto, was 
defeated by the prompt decision of the people to depose the faithless representative ; and 
the final success of Gracchus seemed established by the unanimous decision of the com 
mons in favor of his decree. But such delays had been created by his opponents, that 
the year of his tribuneship was nearly passed ; his re-election was needed in order to 
carry his decree into effect. But the evil in Rome was already too deep to be removed. 
The election day for tribunes was in mid-summer ; the few husbandmen, the only 
shadow of a Roman yeomanry, were busy in the field, gathering their crops, and failed 
to come to the support of their champion. He was left to rest Ms defense on the rabble 
of the city; and though early in the morning great crowds of people gathered together ; 
and though, as Gracchus appeared in the forum, a shout of joy rent the skies, and was 
redoubled as he ascended the steps of the Capitol, yet when the aristocracy, determined 
at every hazard to prevent his election, came with the whole weight of their adherents 
in a mass, the timid flock, yielding to the sentiment of awe rather than of cowardice, 
fled like sheep before wolves, and left their defender, the incomparable Gracchus, to be 
beaten to death by the clubs of senators. Three hundred of his more faithful friends 
were left lifeless in the market-place. In the fury of triumphant passion, the corpse of 
the tribune was dragged through the streets, and thrown into the Tiber. 

The deluded aristocracy raised the full chorus of victory and joy. They believed that 
the Senate had routed the democracy , when it was but the avenging spirit of slavery, 
that struck the first deadly wound into the bosom of Rome ' s *' * 

The murder of Gracchus proved the weakness of the senate ; they could defeat the 
people only by violence. But the blood of their victim, like the blood of other martyrs, 
cemented his party. It was impossible to carry the Agrarian Law into execution ; it 
was equally impossible to effect its repeal. 

Gracchus had interceded for the unhappy indigent freeman, whose independence was 
crushed by the institution of slavery. The slaves themselves were equally sensible of 
their- wrongs ; and in the island of Sieily they resolved on an insurrection. Differing 


in complexion, in language, in habits, the hope of liberty amalgamated the heterogene 
ous mass. Eunus, their wise leader, in the spirit of the East, employed the power of 
superstition to rally the degraded serfs to his banner, and, like Mahomet, pretended a 
revelation from heaven. Sicily had been divided into a few great plantations ; and now 
the voice of a leader, joining the fanaticism of religion to the enthusiasm for freedom, 
with the hope of liberty awakened the slaves, not in Sicily only, but in Italy, to the use 
of arnv? What need of dwelling on the horrors of a servile war 1 Cruel overseers were 
stabbed with pitchforks ; the defenseless were cut to pieces by scythes ; tribunals, hith 
erto unheard of, were established, where each family of slaves might arraign its master, 
and, counting up his ferocities, adjudge punishment for every remembered wrong. Well 
may the Roman historian blush as he relates the disgraceful tale. Quis aequo animo 
ferat in principe gentium populo bella servorum 1 The Romans had fought their allies, 
yet had fought with freemen ; let the queen of nations blush, for she must now contend 
with victorious slaves. Thrice, nay, four times, were the Roman armies defeated ; the 
insurrection spread into Italy ; four times were even the camps of Roman praetors 
stormed and taken ; Roman soldiers became the captives of their bondmen. The army 
of the slaves increased to 200,000. It is said, that in this war a million of lives were 
lost ; the statement is exaggerated ; but Sicily suffered more from the devastations of 
the servile, than of the Carthaginian war. Twice were Roman consuls unsuccessful. 
At length, after years of defeat, the benefits of discipline gave success to the Roman 
forces. The last garrison of the last citadel of the slaves disdained to surrender, and 
could no longer resist ; they escaped the ignominy of captivity by one universal suicide. 
The conqueror of slaves, a new thing in Rome, returned to enjoy the honors of an 
ovation. r 

The object of Tiberius Gracchus, continued by his eloquent and equally unhappy 
brother, who moreover was the enlightened and energetic advocate of a system of in 
ternal improvement in Italy, aimed at ameliorating the condition of the indigent free 
men. The great servile insurrection was designed to effect the emancipation of slaves ; 
and both were unsuccessful. But God is just and his laws are invincible. Slavery 
next made its attack directly on the patricians, and following the order of Providence in 
the government of the moral world, began with silent but sure influence to corrupt the 
virtue of families, and even to destroy domestic life. It is a well ascertained fact, that 
slavery diminishes the frequency of marriages in the class of masters. In a state 
where emancipation is forbidden, the slave population will perpetually gain upon the 
numbers of the free. We will not stop to develop the three or four leading causes of 
this result, pride and the habits of luxury, the facilities of licentious indulgence, the 
circumscribed limits of productive industry ; some of which causes operate exclusively, 
and all of them principally, on the free. The position is certain and is universal ; no 
where was the principle more amply exemplified than in Rome. The rich slaveholders 
preferred luxury and indulgence to marriage ; and celibacy became so general, that the 
aristocracy was obliged by law to favor the institution, which, in a society where all are 
free, constitutes the solace of lal>or and the ornaniezit of life. A Roman censor could, 
in a public address to the people, stigmatize matrimony as a troublesome companion 
ship, and recommend it only as a patriotic sacrifice of private pleasure to public duty. 
The depopulation of the upper class was so considerable, that the waste required to be 
Supplied by emancipation ; and repeatedly there have been periods, when the majority 
of the Romans had once been bondmen. Emancipation was essential to the preservation 
of a class of freemen, who might serve as a balance to the slave population. It was this 
extensive celibacy and the consequent want of succession, that gave a peculiar character 
to the Roman laws relating to adoption. 

The continued and increasing deleterious effects of slavery on Roman institutions. 


may bn traced through the changes in the character of that majority of the citizens, 
whom it left without the opportunity or the fruits of industry. Even in the time of the 
younger Gracchus, they retained dignity enough to hope for an amelioration of their 
condition by the action of laws, and the exercise of their own franchises. Failing in 
this end through the firmness of the nobles, the free middling class was entirely de 
stroyed ; society soon became divided into the very rich and the very poor ; and slave, 
who performed all the labor, occupied the intermediate position between the two clssae.?. 

The first step in the progress of degradation constituted the citizens, by their own 
vote, a class of paupers. They called on the state to feed them from the public grana 
ries. 13ut mark the difference between the pauper system of England, or America, and 
that of Rome. We cheerfully sustain in decent competence the aged, the widow, the 
cripple, the sick and the orphan ; Rome supplied the great body of her citizens. Eng 
land, who also feeds a large proportion of her laboring class, entrusts to her paupers no 
elective franchises. Rome fed with eleemosynary corn the majority of her citizens, 
who retained, even in their condition of paupers, the privileges of electing the govern 
ment, and the right of supreme, ultimate legislation. Thus besides the select wealthy 
idlers, here was a new class of idlers, a multitudinous aristocracy, having no estate but 
their citizenship, no inheritance but their right of suffrage. Both were a burden upon 
the industry of the slaves ; the senate directly from the revenues of their plantations, 
the commons indirectly, from the coffers of the Commonwealth. It was a burden greater 
than the fruits of slave industry could bear ; the deficiency was supplied by the plunder 
of foreign countries. The Romans, as a nation, became an accomplished horde of robbers. 

This first step was ominous enough ; the second was still more alarming. A dema 
gogue appeared, and gaining office, and the conduct of a war, organized these pauper 
electors into a regular army. The demagogue was Marius ; the movement was a revo 
lution. Hitherto the senate had exercised an exclusive control over the brute force of 
the Commonwealth ; the mob was now armed and enrolled, and led by an accomplished 
chieftain. Both parties being thus possessed of great physical force, the civil wars be 
tween the wealthy slaveholders and the impoverished freemen, the select and the mul 
titudinous aristocracy of Rome, could not but ensue. Marius and Sylla were the respective 
leaders ; the streets of Rome and the fields of Italy became the scenes of massacre ; and 
the oppressed bondmen had the satisfaction of beholding the jarring parties, in the na 
tion which had enslaved them, shed each other's blood as freely as water. 

This was not all. The slaves had their triumph. Sylla selected ten thousand from 
their number, and to gain influence for himself at the polls, conferred on them freedom, 
and the elective franchise. 

Of the two great leaders of the opposite factions, it has been asserted that Sylla had a 
distinct purpose, and that Marius never had. The remark is true, and the reason is 
obvious. Sylla was the organ of the aristocracy; to the party which already possessed 
all the wealth, he desired to secure all the political power. This was a definite object, 
and in one sense was attainable. Having effected a revolution, and having taken ven 
geance on the enemies of the senate, he retired from office. He could not have retained 
perpetual authority ; the forms of the ancient republic were then too vigorous, and the 
party on which he rested for support, would not have tolerated the usurpation. He 
established the supremacy of the senate, and retired into private life. Marius, as the 
leader of the people, was met by insuperable difficulties. The existence of a slave pop 
ulation rendered it impossible to elevate the character of his indigent constituents ; nor 
were they possessed of sufficient energy to grasp political power with tenacity. He could 
therefore only embody them among his soldiers, and leave the issue to Providence. His 
partisans suffered from evils, which it required centuries to ripen and to heal ; Marius 
coiild have no plan. 



Thus the institution of slavery had been the ultimate cause of two political revolu 
tions. The indigence to which it reduced the commons, had led the Gracchi to appear 
as the advocates of reform, and had encouraged Marius to become their military leader. 
In the murder of the former, the senate had displayed their success in exciting mobs ; 
and in resistance to the latter, they had roused up a defender of their usurpations. The 
slaves, also, who had found in Eumis an insurgent leader, were now near obtaining a 
liberator. The aristocracy was satisfied with its triumphs ; the impoverished majority, 
now accustomed to their abjectness, made only the additional demand of amusements 
at the public expense ; and were also ignobly satisfied. The slaves alone murmured, 
and in Spartacus, one of their number, they found a man of genius and courage, capa 
ble of becoming their leader. Roman legislation had done nothing for them ; the legis 
lation of their masters had. not assuaged one paiu, noi interposed the shield of the law 
against cruelty. The slaves determined upon a general insurrection, to be followed by 
emigration. The cry went forth from the plains of Lombardy, and reached the rich 
fields of Campania, and was echoed through every valley among the Appennines. The 
gladiators burst the prisons of their keepers ; the field-servant threw down his manure- 
basket ; Syrian and Scythian, the thrall from Macedonia and from Carthage, the wretches 
from South Gaul, the Spaniard, the African, awoke to resistance. The barbarian, who 
had been purchased to shed his blood in the arena, remembered his hut on the Danube ; 
the Greek, not yet indifferent to freedom, panted for release. It was an insurrec 
tion, as solemn in its object, as it was fearful in its extent. Rome was on the brink of 
ruin. Spartacus pointed to the Alps ; beyond their heights were fields, where the 
fugitives might plant their colony ; there they might revive the practice of freedom ; 
there the oppressed might found a new state on the basis of benevolence, and in the 
spirit of justice. A common interest would unite the bondmen of the most remote 
lineage, the most various color, in a firm and happy republic. Already the armies of 
four Roman generals had been defeated ; already the immense emigration was on its 
way to the Alps. 

If the mass of slaves could, at any moment, on breaking their fetters, find themselves 
capable of establishing a liberal government, if they could at once, on being emancipa 
ted or on emancipating themselves, appear possessed of civic virtue, slavery would be 
deprived of more than half its horrors. But the circumstance which more than any 
other renders the institution execrable, is this : that while it binds the body, it corrupts 
the mind. The outrages which men commit, when they first regain their freedom, 
furnish the strongest argument against the system of bondage. The horrible inhumanity 
of civil war, and slave insurrection, are the topics of the loudest appeal against the con 
dition, which can render human nature capable of committing such crimes. Idleness 
and treachery and theft, are the vices of slavery. The followers of Spartacus, when the 
pinnacles of the Alps were almost within their sight, turned aside to plunder ; and the 
Roman army, which could not conquer in open battle the defenders of their personal 
freedom, was able to gain the advantage, where the fugitive slave was changed from a 
defender of liberty into a plunderer. 

The struggle took place pricisely at a moment when the Roman State was most en 
dangered by foreign enemies. But for the difficulties in the way of communication, 
which rendered a close coalition between remote armies impossible, the Roman State 
would have sunk beneath the storm ; and from the shattered planks of its noble ruins 
the slaves alone would have been able to build themselves a little bark of hope, to 
escape from the desolation. Slaves would have occupied by right of conquest the heri 
tage of the Caesars. They finally became lords ; but it was in a surer, and to human 
nature and Roman pride, in a more humiliating manner. 

The suppression of the great insurrection of Spartacus brings us to the age of the 


triumvirs, and the approaching career of Julius Caesar. To form a proper judgment of 
his designs, and their character, we must endeavor to gain some distinct idea of the 
condition of the inhabitants of Italy during his time, as divided into the classes of the 
nobles, the poorer citizens, and the slaves. 

The vast capacity for reproduction, which the laws of society secure to capital in a 
greater degree than to personal exertion, displays itself no where so clearly as in slave- 
holding states, where the laboring class is but a portion of the capital of the opulent. 
As wealth consists chiefly in land and slaves, the rates of interest are, from universally 
operative causes, always comparatively high ; the difficulty of advancing with borrowed 
capital proportiona'bly great. The small land-holder finds himself unable to compete 
with those who are possessed of whole cohorts of bondmen ; his slaves, his lands, 
rapidly pass, in consequence of his debts, into the hands of the more opulent. The 
large plantations are constantly swallowing up the smaller ones ; and land and slaves 
soon come to be engrossed by a few. Before Caesar passed the Rubicon, this condition 
existed in its extreme in the Roman State. The ARISTOCEACY owned the soil and its 
cultivators. A free laborer was hardly known. The large proprietors of slaves not 
only tilled their immense plantations, but also indulged their avarice in training their 
slaves to every species of labor, and letting them out, as horses from a livery stable, for 
the performance of every conceivable species of work. Four or five hundred slaves 
were not an uncommon number in one family ; fifteen or twenty thousand sometimes 
belonged to one master. The wealth of Crassus was immense, and consisted chiefly in 
lands and slaves ; on the number of his slaves we hardly dare hazard a conjecture. Of 
joiners and masons he had over five hundred. Nor was this the whole evil. The nobles, 
having impoverished their lands, became usurers, and had their agents dispersed over 
all the provinces. The censor Cato closed his career by recommending usury, as more 
productive than agriculture by slave labor ; and such was the prodigality of the Roman 
planters, that, to indulge their fondness for luxury, many of them also mortgaged their 
estates to the money-lenders. Thus the lands of Italy, at best in the hands of a few 
proprietors, became virtually vested in the hands of a still smaller number of usurers. 
No man's house, no man's person, was secure. Nullie est certa domus, nullum sine 
pignore corpus. Hence, corruption readily found its way into the senate ; the votes of 
that body, not less than the votes of the poorer citizens, were a merchantable com 
modity. Venalis Curia patrum. The wisdom and the decrees of the senate were for 
sale to the highest bidder. 

Thus there was in all Italy no yeomanry, no free labor, no free manufacturing class ; 
and thus the wealth of the great landed proprietors was wholly unbalanced. The large 
plantations, cultivated by slave labor, had already ruined Italy. Verum confitentibus, 
latifimdia Italiam perdiderunt. 

The FREE CITIZENS, who still elected tribunes and consuls, and were still sometimes 
convened in a sort of town-meeting, were poor and abject. But the right of suffrage in 
sured them a maintenance. The petty offices in the Commonwealth were filled from 
their number ti and such as retained some capacity for business found many a lucrative 
job, in return for their influence and their votes. The custom houses, the provinces, 
the internal police, offered inviting situations to moderate ambition. The rest clamored 
for bread from the public treasury, for tickets for the theatre at the national expense, 
for gladiatorial shows, where men were butchered at the cost of the office-seeking aris 
tocracy, for the amusement of the majority. But there existed no free manufacturing 
estahMshments, no free farmers, no free laborers, no free mechanics. The state possessed 
some of the forms of democracy ; but the life-giving principle of a democracy, prosper 
ous free labor, was wanting. 

The third class was the class of SLAVES. It was three times as numerous as both the 


others ; though, as we have already observed, the whole body belonged almost exclusively 
to the few very wealthy. Their numbers excited constant apprehension ; but care was 
taken not to distinguish them by a peculiar dress. Their ranks were recruited in various 
ways. The captives in war were sold at auction. The good Cicero, in the little wars in 
which he was commander, sold men enough to produce, at half price, half a million 
dollars. When it was told in Rome that Caesar had invaded Britain, the people, in the 
true spirit of robbers, could not but ask one another what plunder he could hope to 
find there. ' There is not a scruple of silver, ' said they, ' in the whole island ; ' neque 
argenti scrupulum in ilia insula. 'Yes, ' it was truly answered, ' but he will bring slaves. ' 

The second mode of supplying the slave market was by commerce ; and this supply 
was so uniform and abundant, that the price of an ordinary laborer hardly varied very 
much for centuries. The reason is obvious. The slave merchant gets his cargoes from 
kidnappers, and the first cost, therefore, is inconsiderable. The great centres of this 
traffic were in the harbors bordering on the Euxine ; and Scythians were often stolen. 
Caravans penetrated the deserts of Africa, and made regular hunts for slaves. Blacks 
were in high value ; they were somewhat rare, and therefore both male and female 
negroes were favorite articles of luxury among the opulent Romans. At one period, 
Delos was most remarkable as the emporium for slavers. It had its harbors, chains, 
prisons, every thing so amply arranged to favor a brisk traffic, that ten thousand slaves 
could change hands and be shipped in a single day. 

Such was the character of the Italian population over which a government was to be 
instituted, at the time when Caesar appeared with his army 011 the borders of the Rubi 
con. In the contest which followed, it was the object of Pompey to plunder, to devas 
tate, and to revenge. There did not exist any armed party in favor of a democratic re 
public. The spirit of the democracy was gone ; and its shade only moved, with powerless 
steps, through the forum and the temples, which had once been the scenes of its glory. 

Julius Caesar was a great statesman, not less than a great soldier. His ambition was 
in every thing gratified ; the noise of his triumphs had filled the shores of England, the 
swamps of Belgium, and the forests of Germany. Any distinction in the Roman State 
was within his reach. He was childless ; and therefore his ambition hardly seemed to 
require a subversion of the Roman Commonwealth. And yet, with all this, he deliber 
ately perceived that the continuance of popular liberty was impossible, in the actual 
condition of the Roman State ; that a wasting, corrupt, and most oppressive aristocracy 
was preparing to assume the dominion of the world ; that this aristocracy threatened 
ruin to the provinces, perpetual cruelty to the slaves, and hereditary, intolerant con 
tempt for the people. Democracy had expired ; and the worst form of aristocracy, like 
that of the Venetian nobles of a later day, could be prevented only by a monarchy. 
Julius Caesar coolly resolved on the establishment of a monarchy. This was the third 
great revolution prepared by slavery. 

Slavery having impoverished, but not wholly corrupted the free citizens, Gracchus had 
endeavored to restore the democracy by creating an independent yeomanry, and had 
failed from the opposition of the nobles. The nobles, perceiving the increase of the 
evil, the great degradation of the electors, and the multiplication of slaves, and being 
firmly resolved on maintaining the system of slave labor, endeavored to effect a revolu 
tion, by substituting a strong aristocracy for the democracy. The plan failed, owing to 
he strength of the democratic forms, which had survived the democratic spirit. Caesar 
came, and finding the evil excessive, could devise no cure ; but he clearly saw that a 
monarchical form of government was the only one which would endure in Rome. Had 
Caesar possessed the virtues of Washington, the democracy of Jefferson, the legislative 
genius of Madison, he could not have changed the course of events. The condition of 
the Roman population demanded monarchy. 



There remained no mode of establishing a fixed government in Rome, but by vesting 
fell power in the hands of one man. In Italy, no opposition whatever was made to Caesar, 
on the part of the people or of the slaves. The only opposition proceeded from the aris 
tocracy, and they could offer resistance only in the remoter subjected districts, with the 
aid of hireling troops, sustained by the revenues of the provinces, which were still un 
der the control of the senate. The people conferred on Caesar all the power which he 
could desire ; he was created dictator for a year, that he might subdue his enemies, and 
consul for five years, that he might confirm his authority. The inviolability of his per 
son was secured by his election as tribune for life. 

What would have been the policy of Julius Caesar, had he remained in power, cannot 
be safely conjectured. To say that he had no plan is absurd; every step in his progress 
was marked by consistency. The establishment of monarchy was already an alternative 
to slavery. Caesar did more. He issued an ordinance, not indeed of immediate abolition, 
but commanding that one-third part of the labor of Italy should be performed by free 
hands. The command was rendered inoperative by the assassination of Caesar, the 
greatest misfortune that could have happened to Rome. For who were his murderers ? 
Not the people, not the insurgent bondmen ; but a portion of the aristocracy, to whom 
the greatest happiness of the greatest number was a matter of supreme indifference. 

The great majority of the conspirators have never found a eulogist. Every ancient 
writer speaks of them with reprobation and contempt. Cassius, one of the chief lead 
ers, was notoriously selfish, violent, and disgracefully covetous, not to say dishonest. 
He is universally represented as envying injustice rather than abhorring it, and his con 
duct has ever been ascribed to personal malevolence, and not to patriotism. But Brutus ! 
History never manufactured him into a hero, till he had made himself an assassin. 
Of a headstrong, unbridled disposition, he never displayed coolness of judgment in any 
part of his career. It was his misfortune to have been the son of an abandoned woman, 
and to have been bred in a home which adultery and wantonness had defiled. The 
vices of early indulgence may be palliated by his youth and the licentiousness of his 
time ; but Brutus, wliile yet young, was notorious as a merciless and exorbitant usurer, 
at the rate of four per cent, a month, or forty-eight per cent, a year. When his debtors 
grew unable to pay, he obtained for his agent an appointment to a military post, and 
extorted his claims by martial law. The town of Salamis, in the isle of Cyprus, owed 
him money on the terms we have mentioned. He caused the members of its bankrupt 
municipal government to be confined in their town-hall, in the hope that hunger would 
quicken their financial skill ; and some of them were starved to death. Such was Bru 
tus at that ingenuous period of life, when benevolence is usually most active. Brutus 
hated Pompey, yet after deliberating, he joined the party of that leader, and remained 
true to it, so long as it seemed to be the strongest ; but no sooner was the battle of 
Pharsalia won, than Brutus gave in his adhesion to Caesar, and to confer a value on his 
conversion, he betrayed the confidence of the fugitive, whose cause he had abandoned ! 
In the plot against Caesar, Brutus was the dupe of more sagacious men. The admirer 
transfers his own enthusiasm for liberty to those who claimed to be the champions of 
the republic; and reverences the crime of inconsiderate passion, as the exercise of 
righteous vengeance. 

Caesar had received the senate sitting ; this insult required immediate vengeance. 
They murdered Caesar, not from public spirit, but from mortified vanity and angry dis 
content. The people, who had been pleased with the humiliation of their oppressors, 
were indignant at the assassination, and the assassins themselves had no ulterior plan. 

Slavery had poisoned the Roman State to the marrow ; and though the conspirators 
had no fixed line of policy, yet the condition of the population of Italy led immediately 
to monarchy. The young Octavian owed his elevation, not to his talents, but to the 


state of the times. Nothing but monarchy was tolerable. The evils that followed ser 
vitude made Augustus emperor. 

Thus slavery, by impoverishing the majority of the citizens, rendered the reform of 
Gracchus necessary to the preservation of the democracy, and at the same time rendered 
that reform impossible. In a word, slavery subverted the Roman democracy. The same 
cause, corrupting the citizens, occasioned the attempt of Sylla, which Pompey would 
have renewed, to found an aristocratic government, where there already existed an aris 
tocratic class ; a result which the combined interests of the slaves and the people 
defeated. Slavery was the moving cause of the third revolution ; and monarchy was 
established by the common consent of the people, and to the sure benefit of the slave. 
In the emperor the slave would have a friend. 

Slavery prepared one more revolution, before it expired. It introduced Oriental des 
potism into Europe ; not by force of arms, but by the sure results of causes that were 
perpetually in action. 

Slavery impoverished the soil of Italy. The careless culture wore out even the rich 
fields of Campania. Large districts were left waste ; other large tracts were turned into 
pastures ; and grazing was substituted for tillage. The average crops of Italy hardly 
ever returned fourfold increase. Nam frumenta majore quidem parte Italiae, quando 
cum quarto responderint, vix meminisse possumus. It is the confession of the eulogist 
and the teacher of agriculture. Italy was naturally a very fertile country ; but slave 
labor could hardly wring from it a return one-half, or even one-third, so great as free 
labor gets from the hills and vales of New England. This impoverishment of the soil 
impoverished the spirit of its inhabitants. The owners of slaves, disdaining the use of 
the sickle and the plow, crept within the walls of Rome, abandoning the cares of agri 
culture to the vilest of their bondmen. 

Slavery prepared the way for Oriental despotism by encouraging luxury. The genius 
of the Romans was inventive ; but it was only to devise new pleasures of the senses. 
The retinue of servants was unexampled ; and the caprices, to which men and women 
were subjected, were innumerable. The Roman writers are so full of it, that it is un 
necessary to draw the picture, which would indeed represent humanity degraded by the 
subserviency of slaves, and by the artificial desires and vices of their masters. This 
detestable excess extended through the whole upper class. Women ceased to blush for 
vices which, in other times, render men infamous. Beneficium sexus sui vitiis perdid- 
exunt, et quia foeminam exuerunt, damnatae sunt morbis virilibus. At Rome, the gout 
was a common disease in the circles of female dissoluteness and fashion. The rage of 
luxury extended also, in some sort, to the people. For them, tens of thousands of gla 
diators were sacrificed without concern ; for them the enslaved Jews raised the gigantic 
walls of the Coliseum, the most splendid monument of human infamy ; for them actual 
navies engaged in actual contests ; and the sailors, as they prepared for battle, received 
only an AVET.E, on their way to death. 

In like manner, the effect of slavery became visible on public morals. Among the 
slaves there was no such thing as the sanctity of marriage ; dissoluteness was almost as 
general as the class. The slave was ready to assist in the corruption of his master's 
family. The virtues of self-denial were unknown. But the picture of Roman immo 
rality is too gross to be exhibited. Its excess can be estimated from the extravagance of 
its remedy. When the Christian religion made its way through the oppressed classes 
of society, and gained strength by acquiring the affections of the miserable, whose woes 
it solaced, the abandoned manners of the cities could be forcibly reproved, only by the 
voice of fanaticism. When domestic life had almost ceased to exist, the universal lewd- 
ness could be checked only by the most exaggerated eulogies of absolute chastity. Con 
vents and nunneries grew up, when more than half the world were excluded from the 


rites of marriage, and condemned by the laws of the empire to promiscuous indulgence. 
Vows of virginity were the testimony which religion bore against the enormities of the 
times. Spotless purity could alone put to blush the shamelessness of artificial excess. 
As in raging diseases, the most violent and unnatural remedies need to be applied for 
a season, so the transports of enthusiasm and the revolution of fanaticism sometimes 
appear necessary to stay the infection of a moral pestilence. Thus riot produced asceti 
cism ; and monks, and monkish eloquence, and monastic vows grew out of the general 
depravity of manners. The remedy was demanded, since public vice was threatening 
the Southern world with depopulation. 

The gradual decay of the class of ingenuous freemen had ever been a conspicuous 
result of slavery. The corruptions of licentiousness spared neither sex of the Roman 
people ; and the consequence was so certain, that emancipation alone could supply the 
void. Nor was it long before the majority of the cohorts, of the priesthood, of the 
tribes, of the people, nay of the senate itself, came to consist of emancipated slaves. 
But the sons of slaves could have no capacity for defending freedom ; and despotism was 
at hand, when, besides the sovereign, there were few who were not bondmen or the chil 
dren of bondmen. Freedom, to exist securely, must be locked fast in hereditary affec 
tions, and confirmed as a mortmain inheritance from long generations. 

The government of Rome was sufficiently degraded, when the makers of an emperor, 
stumbling upon Claudius, the wisest fool of the times, proclaimed him the master of the 
Roman empire. Slavery now enjoyed its triumph, for a slave became prime minister. 
lo Saturnalia, shouted the cohorts, as Narcissus attempted to address them. But the 
consummation of evil had not arrived. The husband of Messalina had, naturally enough, 
taken up a prejudice against matrimony ; but the governors of the weak emperor, who 
managed him as absolutely as Buckingham managed James I., insisted upon his marry 
ing Agrippina. He did so ; and Agrippina, assisted by freedmen and slaves, disinherited his 
son, murdered her husband, and placed Nero on the throne. Slaves gave Nero the purple. 
The accession of Nero is the epoch of the virtual establishment of the fourth revolu 
tion. The forms of ancient Rome still continued, but Nero was the incarnation of tyran 
ny ; the triumph of human depravity ; the very name by which men are accustomed to 
express the fury of unrestrained malignity. Bad as he was, Nero was not worse than 
Rome. Rome had no right to complain ; Rome had but her due. Nay, when he died, 
the rabble and the slaves crowned his statues with garlands, and scattered flowers over 
his grave. And why should they not ? Nero never injured the rabble, never oppressed 
the slave. He murdered his mother, his brother, his wife. But Nero was only the tyrant 
of the wealthy ; the terror of the successful. He rendered poverty sweet, for poverty 
alone was secure ; he rendered slavery tolerable, for slaves alone, or slavish men, were 
promoted to power. Iii honoring his tomb, they honored their avenger. The reign of 
Nero was the golden reign of the populace, and the holiday of the bondman. The death 
of Gracchus was now avenged on the descendants of his murderers. The streams in 
Heaven, it is truly said, run up hill ; and slavery, in producing its perfect results, had 
brought the heaviest curse on the heads of its supporters. 

Despotism now became the government of the Roman empire. Yet, there was such 
a vitality in the forms of liberty, that they were still in some degree preserved. Two 
centuries passed away, before the last vestiges of republican simplicity disappeared ; two 
centuries elapsed, before the Eastern diadem could be introduced with the slavish cus 
toms of the East. Up to the reign of Diocletian, a diadem had never been endured in 
Europe. Hardly had this emblem of servility become tolerated, when language also 
began to be corrupted ; and, within the course of another century, the austere purity 
of the Greek and Roman tongues, the languages of Demosthenes and of Gracchus, 
became for the first time familiarized to the f orms of Oriental adulation. Your imperial 


Highness, your Grace, your Excellency, your Immensity, your Honor, your Majesty, 
then first became current in the European world ; men grew ashamed of a plain name ; 
and one person could not address another without following the custom of the Syrians, 
and calling him Rabbi, Master. 

It is a calumny to charge the devastation of Italy upon the barbarians. We say again, 
the large Roman plantations, tilled by slave labor, were the ruin of Italy. Verum con- 
fitentibus, latifundia Italiam perdidere. From the days of Gracchus, morals, courage, 
force of character, and agriculture had been declining. The productiveness of the 
country was constantly diminishing ; Italy, for centuries, had not produced corn enough 
to meet the wants of its inhabitants. Rome was chiefly supplied from Sicily and Africa, 
and the largest number of its inhabitants had, for centuries, been fed from the public 

The barbarians did not ruin Italy. The Romans themselves ruined it. Slavery had 
made it a waste and depopulated land, before a Scythian or a Scandinavian had crossed 
the Alps. 

When Alaric led the Goths into Italy, even after the conquest of Rome, he saw that 
he could not sustain his army in the beautiful but desert territory, unless he could also 
conquer Sicily and Africa, whence alone daily bread could be obtained. His successor 
was, therefore, easily persuaded to abandon the unproductive region, and invade the 
happier France. 

Attila had no other object than a roving pilgrimage after plunder ; and as his cupidity 
was little excited, and the climate was ungenial, the wild, unlettered Calmuck was easily 
overawed by the Roman priesthood, and diverted from the indigent Italy to the more 
prosperous North. Rome still remained an object for plunderers, but none of the bar 
barians were tempted to make Italy the seat of empire, or Rome a metropolis. Slavery 
had destroyed the democracy, had destroyed the aristocracy, had destroyed the empire ; 
and now at last it left the traces of its ruinous power deeply furrowed on the face of 
nature herself.' 



Barbary the Carthaginians, the Romans, the Vandals. Northern Africa annexed to the 
Greek Empire. Conquered by the Saracens. The Spanish Moors pass over to Africa 
Their expeditions to plunder the coasts of Spain, and carry off the Christian Span 
iards into Slavery. Cardinal Ximenes invades Barbary, 1509, to release the captives. 
Barbarossa, the sea-rover, becomes king of Algiers. The Christian Slaves build the 
mo le. Expeditious of Charles V. against the Moors. Insurrection of the Slaves. 
Charles releases 20,000 Christians from Slavery, and carries off 10,000 Mohammedan? 
to be reduced to Slavery in Spain. The Moors retaliate by seizing 6000 Minorcans for 
Slaves. Second expedition of Charles its disastrous termination his army destroyed 
prisoners sold into Slavery. The Algerines extend their depredations into the Eng 
lish Channel. Condition of the Christian slaves in Barbary treated with more human 
ity than African slaves among Christians. Ransom of the slaves by their countrymen. 
British Parliament appropriates money for the purpose. The French send bomb ves 
sels in 1688. Lord Exmouth in 1816 releases 3000 captives, and puts an end to Chris 
tian Slavery in Barbary. 


ARBARY is the general and somewhat vague denomination adopted by 
Europeans to designate that part of the northern coast of Africa which, bound 
ed on the south by the desert of Sahara, is comprised between the frontiers of 


Egypt on the Mediterranean, and Cape Nun, the western spur of the lofty At 
las range, on the Atlantic. Imperfectly known even at the present day, in an 
cient legend it was peculiarly the land of mystery and fable. It was there the 
Grecian poets, giving their airy nothings a local habitation and a name, placed 
the site of the delightful gardens of Hesperides, whose trees bore apples of the 
purest gold ; there dwelt the terrible Gorgon, whose snaky tresses turned all 
living things into stone ; there the invincible Hercules wrestled and overthrew 
the mighty Antaeus ; there the weary Atlas supported the ponderous arch of 
heaven on his stalwart shoulders. Almost as mythical and mysterious is the 
little we know of the Phoenicians, the greatest maritime people of antiquity, 
who planted their most powerful colony, the proud city of Carthage, on these 
fertile shores of Northern Africa. Of the Carthaginians, we can glean a lit 
tle from the Greek and Roman historians. We know that in turn becoming 
the rulers of the seas, they explored and founded colonies and trading-depots 
in what were at that time the most distant regions ; extending their commer 
cial relations from the tropical banks of the Niger to the frost-bound beach of 
the Baltic. A powerful people ere Rome was built, they long enjoyed their 
supremacy ; at last, the thirst of territorial conquest brought the two great na 
tions into rivalry, and the rich temples of Carthage fell a prey to the legions 
of Scipio. For a short period after the destruction of Carthage, the energetic 
subtlety of Jugurtha prevented the conquerors from extending their dominion ; 
but in a few years, the whole coast, as far as the waves of the Atlantic, became 
a Roman province. It remained so till about the year 428 of the Christian 
era, in the reign of the Emperor Honorius, when Genseric, king of the Van 
dals, crossed over to Africa, conquered the Roman territory, and founded a 
dynasty which reigned for about 100 years. The Greek emperor Justinian 
then sent Belisarius to reconquer the country ; he defeated the Vandals, made 
their king prisoner, and added Northern Africa to the Greek Empire. 

History presents us with a series of conquering races, following each other 
as the waves upon the sea-beach, each washing away the impression made up 
on the sand by its forerunner, and each leaving a fresh impression to be washed 
out by its successor. The irruption of the Saracens followed hard upon the 
conquering footsteps of Belisarius. Swarm after swarm of the Arabs came 
up out of Egypt, till Northern Africa was under the rule of the caliphs, ex 
cepting a small part of the sea-coast held by the Spanish Goths. They at last 
were driven out by Musa, about the year 710 ; and then Tarik, Musa's lieuten 
ant, crossing the narrow straits, carried the war into Europe, defeated Rod 
erick, the last Gothic king, and laid the foundation of Arab dominion in Spain. 
The ruthless spirit of religious fanaticism which inspired the followers of Mo 
hammed, destroyed everything it could not change. Romans, Vandals, Greeks, 
Goths, their laws, literature, and religions, all have disappeared in Northern 
Africa ; the recollection of the most powerful of them is only preserved in the 
word Eomi a term of reproach to the Christians of all nations. Of their 
more material works, the learned antiquary still finds some traces of Roman 


edifices, and the remains of a sewer are supposed to indicate the site of Car 
thage. The warlike enthusiasm of the Saracens was better adapted for making 
conquests than for preserving them. The great distance from the seat of em 
pire, the revolutions caused by rival houses contending for the caliphate, the 
ambitious projects of the viceroys inclining them to league with native chiefs, 
led to a dissolution of the Arabian power hi Northern Africa. Consequently, 
when the dawn of modern history begins to throw a clearer light upon the 
scene, we find the territory divided into a number of petty sovereignties. 

The Saracens in Africa intermixing with the barbarous native tribes, never 
reached the high position in the arts of peace and civilization attained by their 
brethren, the conquerors of Spain. The devastating instinct of Islamism seems 
to have yielded to a more benign influence, as soon as it entered Europe. 
When Spain was thoroughly subdued, the natives were permitted, with but few 
restrictions, the full enjoyment of their own laws and religion ; and the Arabs, 
enjoying almost peaceable possession for nearly three centuries after the con 
quest, devoted their fiery energies to the acquisition of knowledge. Enriched 
by a fertile soil and prosperous commerce, they blended the acquirements and 
refinements of intellectual culture with Arabian luxury and magnificence ; the 
palaces of their princes were radiant with splendor, their colleges famous for 
learning, their libraries overflowing with books, their agricultural and manufac 
turing processes conducted with scientific accuracy, when all the rest of Europe 
was buried in midnight barbarism. To those halcyon days of comparative 
peace succeeded four centuries of bitter conflict between the invaders and the 
invaded, exhibiting one of the grandest romances of military history on record. 
It was long doubtful on which side the horors of victory would descend. At 
last, the ardor and audacity of the Mussulraau succumbed to the patriotic cour 
age of the Christian, and the reluctant Moor was compelled to abandon the 
lovely region he had rendered classical by the exercise of his peculiar taste and 

Immediately after the fall of Granada in 1^9?, about 100,000 Spanish Moors 
passed over into Africa with their unfortunate king, Boabdil. Some ruined and 
deserted cities on the sea-coast, the remains of Carthaginian and Roman power 
and enterprise, were allotted to the exiles ; for though of the same religion, and 
almost of the same race and language as the people they sought refuge amongst, 
yet they were strangers in a strange land ; the African Moors termed them 
Tigarins (Andalucians) ; they dwelt and intermarried together, and were long 
known to Europeans, in the lingua franca of the Mediterranean, by the ap 
pellation of Moriscos. At the period of this forced migration, the Barbary 
Moors knew nothing of navigation ; what little comnerce they had was carried 
on by the ships of Cadiz, Genoa, and Ragusa. But the Moriscos, confined to 
the sea-coast, and debarred from agriculture, had no sooner rendered the an 
cient ruins habitable, than they turned their attention to naval affairs. Build 
ing row-boats, carrying from fourteen to twenty-six oars, they boldly put to sea, 
and incited by feelings of the deadliest enmity, revenge** thsrcwlves ou the 


hated Spaniard, at the same time that they plundered for a livelihood. Cross 
ing the narrow channel which separates the two continents, and lying off out 
of sight of the Spanish coast during the day, they landed at night not as 
strangers, but on the shores of their native land, where every bay and creek, 
every path and pass, every village and homestead, were as well known to them 
as to the Christian Spaniard. In the morning, mangled bodies and burning 
houses testified that the Moriscos had been there ; while all portable plunder, 
every captured Christian not too old or too young to be a slave, was in the 
row-boat, speeding swiftly to the African coast. The harassed Spaniards kept 
watch and ward, winter and summer, from sunrise to sunset, and sometimes 
succeeded in cutting off small parties of the piratical invaders ; yet such was 
the audacity of 'the Moriscos, and so well were their incursions planned, that 
frequently they plundered villages miles in the interior. Then ensued the hasty 
flight and hot pursuit ; the freebooters retreating to the boats, driving before 
them, at the lance's point, unfortunate captives, laden with the plunder of their 
own dwellings ; the pursuers, horse and foot, following into the very water, and 
firing on the retiring row-boats till their long oars swept them out of gunshot. 
The Barbary Moors soon joined the Moriscos in those exciting and profitable 
adventures ; and thus originated the atrocious practice, which being subse 
quently recognized in treaties made by various European powers, became, ac 
cording to the laws of nations, a legally organized system of Christian slavery. 

In 1509, Ferdinand the Catholic, anxious to stop the Morisco depredations 
on the Spanish coast, sent a considerable force, under the celebrated Cardinal 
Ximenes, to invade Barbary. During this expedition, the Spaniards released 
300 captives, and took possession of Oran and a few other unimportant places 
on the coast. One of those was a small island, about a mile from the main, 
lying exactly opposite the town since known as Algiers, but previously so little 
recognized by history, that it is not certain when it received the name. In all 
probability, it acquired the high-sounding appellation of Al Ghezire (The In 
vincible) at a subsequent period. Carefully fortifying this insulated rock, the 
Spaniards, by the superiority of their artillery, held possession of it for several 
years, as a sort of outpost, and a curb upon the piratical tendencies of the na 
tive powers. 

One of those extraordinary adventurers, who, rising from nothing, carve out 
kingdoms for themselves with the edge of their sabres, and gleaming at inter 
vals on an astonished world, vanish into utter darkness, like comets in their 
erratic orbits, appeared at this time, and changed the destinies of the greater 
part of Northern Africa. The son of a poor Greek potter in the island of 
Mitylene worked with his father till a younger brother was able to take his 
place in assisting to support the family ; then going on board a Turkish war 
vessel, he signified his desire to become a Mussulman, and enter the service. 
His offer was accepted, he received the Turkish name of Aroudje his previous 
appellation is unknown and in a short time, his fierce intrepidity and nautical 
skill raised him to the command of a vessel belonging to the sultan. Intrusted 


with a considerable sum of money, to pay the Turkish garrisons in the Morea, 
he sailed from Constantinople, and having passed the Dardanelles, he mustered 
his crew, and declared his intentions of renouncing allegiance to the Porte. He 
told them that, if they would stand by him, he would lead them to the western 
waters of the Mediterranean, where prizes of all nations might be captured in 
abundance, where there were no knights of Rhodes to contend against, and 
where they would be completely out of the power of the sultan. A project so 
much in unison with the predilections of the rude crew, was received with en 
thusiastic acclamations of assent. Aroudje then steered for his native island 
of Mityleue, where he landed, and gave a large sum of money to his mother 
and sisters ; and being joined by his brother, who, becoming a Mohammedan, 
assumed the name of Hayraddin, he weighed anchor, and turned his prow to 
the westward. Arriving off the island of Elba, he fell in with two portly ar 
gosies under papal colors. Piracy in these western seas having previously been 
carried on in the Morisco row-boats only, the Christians were not alarmed, but 
believing Aroudje to be an honest trader, permitted him to run alongside, as he 
seemed to wish to communicate some information. They were quickly unde 
ceived. Boarding the nearest one, he immediately took possession of her, and 
then dressing his men in the clothes of the captured crew, he bore down upon 
her unsuspecting consort. She was captured also, with scarcely a blow ; and 
Aroudje found himself in possession of two ships; each much larger than his 
own, with cargoes of great value, and some hundreds of prisoners. The fame 
of this bold action resounded from the southern shores of Europe to the oppo 
site coast of Africa. Such captives as were ransomed, when describing the ap 
pearance of Aroudje, did not fail to recount the ferocious aspect of his hug<i 
red beard, so unusual an appendage to a native of the south, and thus he ob 
tained the name of Barbarossa (Redbeard), so long the terror of the Mediter 
ranean. Taking his prizes to Tunis, one of the small states that had once been 
part, of the great Saracen Empire in Barbary, Aroudje was well received by 
the king, who allowed him to use the island and fort of Goleta as a naval de 
pot, on condition of paying a certain percentage on all prizes. Adding daily 
to his wealth and fleet, the daring sea-rover had no lack of followers. Turk 
ish and Moorish adventurers eagerly enrolled themselves under his fortunate 

The precarious position of the petty Barbary states, threatened by the Ber 
bers and Bedouins of the interior on the land-side, and menaced by the Span- 
ards on the sea-board, was highly favorable to the ambitious aspirations of the 
potter's son. The district of Jijil being attacked by famine, he seized the corn- 
ships of Sicily, and distributed the grain freely and without price among the 
starving indabitauts, who gratefully proclaimed him their king ; and in a few 
years his army equaled in magnitude his still increasing fleet. The fort built 
by the Spaniards on the island off Algiers was a great annoyance to Eutemi, 
the Moorish king of that little state. Unwisely, he applied to Barbarossa for 
aid to evict the Spaniard, and eagerly was the request granted. With 5000 



men, the pirate chief marched to Algiers, where the people hailed him as a de 
liverer ; Euterni was murdered, and Aroudje proclaimed king. The throne 
thus usurped by audacity, he established by policy ; profusely liberal to his 
friends, ferociously cruel to his enemies, he was loved and dreaded by all his 
subjects. His reign, however, was short, being defeated and killed in battle 
by the Spaniards, only two years after he ascended the throne. In such esti 
mation was this victory held, that the head, shirt-of-mail, and gold-embroidered 
vest of the slain warrior were carried on a lance, in triumphant procession, 
through the principal cities of Spain, and then deposited as sacred trophies in 
the church of St. Jerome at Cordova. Hayraddin, who is styled by the old 
historians, Barbarossa II., succeeded his brother, but, feeling his position inse 
cure, he tendered the sovereignty of Algiers to the Grand Seignior, on condi 
tion of being appointed viceroy and receiving a contingent of troops. Sultan 
Selim, gladly accepting the offer, sent a firman creating Hayraddin pacha, and 
a force of 2000 janizaries. From that period, the Ottoman supremacy over 
the Moorish and Morisco inhabitants of Algiers was firmly established. 

Piracy upon all Christian nations was still vigorously carried on from Tunis 
and other ports of Barbary ; but the harbor of Algiers being commanded by 
the island fort in possession of the Spaniards, was deprived of that nefarious 
source of wealth. This island was long the ' Castle Dangerous ' of the Span 
ish service ; nor was it till 1530, that, betrayed by a discontented soldier, it fell 
into the hands of Hayraddin. Don Martin, the Spanish governor, who had 
long and nobly defended the isolated rock, was brought a wounded captive be 
fore the truculent pacha. " I respect you," said Hayraddin, " as a brave man 
and a good soldier. Whatever favor you may ask of me, I will grant, on con 
dition that you will accede to whatever I may request." 

"Agreed," replied Don Martin. "Cut off the head of the base Spaniard 
who betrayed his countrymen." 

The wretch was immediately brought in, and decapitated on the spot. 

"Now," rejoined Hayraddin, "my request is that you become a Mussul 
man, and take command of my army." 

"Never !" exclaimed the chivalrous Don Martin ; and immediately, at a sig 
nal from the enraged pacha, a dozen yataghans leaped from their sheaths, and 
the faithful Christian was cut to pieces on the flobr of the presence-chamber. 

The island, so long a source of danger and annoyance to the Algerines, was 
now made their safest defense, Hayraddin conceiving the bold idea of uniting 
it to the mainland by a mole and breakwater. This really great undertaking, 
which still evinces the engineering and mechanical skill of its promoters, was 
the work of thousands of wretched Christian slaves, who labored at it inces 
santly for three years before it was completed. Thus the Algerhies obtained a 
commodious harbor for their shipping, secure against all storms, and, at that 
time, impregnable to all enemies. 

In 1532, the people of Tunis rebelling, deposed their king, and invited the wil 
ling Hayraddin to become their ruler. With this increase of power his bold- 


ness increased also. Out of his many daring exploits at this period, we need 
mention only one. Hearing that Julian Gonzago, the wife of Vespasian Co- 
lonna, Count of Fondi, was the most beautiful woman in Europe, Hayraddin 
made a descent in the night on the town of Fondi ; scaling the walls, the fierce 
Moslems plundered the town, and carried off numbers of the inhabitants into 
slavery. Fortunately, the countess escaped to the fields in her night-dress, 
and thus evaded the clutches of the pirate, who, to revenge his disappointment, 
ravaged the whole Neapolitan coast before he returned to Tunis. 

The eyes of all Europe were now turned imploringly to the only power con 
sidered capable of contending with this 'monstrous scourge of Christendom.' 
The Emperor Charles V. eagerly responded to the appeal, and summoned forth 
the united strength of his vast dominions to equip the most powerful armada 
that had ever plowed the waves of the Mediterranean ; the Low Countries, 
Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Genoa, furnished their bravest veterans and best 
appointed ships ; the Knights of St. John supplied a few vessels, small, yet 
formidable from the well-known valor of the chevaliers who served in them ; 
the pope contributed his blessing ; and the immense armament, inspired with 
all the enthusiasm of the Crusades, but directed to a more rational and legiti 
mate object, rendezvoused at Cagliari a convenient harbor of Sardinia. 

Hayraddin, aware of the object and destination of this vast armament, en 
ergetically prepared to give it a suitable reception. Night and day the mis 
erable Christian slaves, rivetting their own fetters, were employed in erecting 
new, and strengthening old fortifications ; and as a last resource, in case of 
defeat, the shrewd pacha sent eighteen sail of his best ships to Bona. In July, 
153T, the emperor's fleet was descried from the towers of Tunis ; and Hayrad 
din made the last dispositions for defense by placing his treasure, seraglio, and 
slaves in the citadel, under a strong guard, with the intention of retreating 
thither if the city and port were taken. 

Charles, after landing his troops, commenced a simultaneous attack by land 
and sea. Hayraddin, with much inferior force, yet greater advantage of po 
sition, conducted the defense with skill and determination. But in the heat of 
the conflict, the Christian slaves, distracted with suspense, and excited to frenzy 
by the thunder of the cannonade, burst their bonds, overpowered their guards, 
and turned the guns of the citadel upon their Moslem masters. Hayraddin, 
then seeing that the day was irrecoverably lost, fled with the remnant of his 
army to the ships at Bona. Charles reinstated the deposed king of Tunis as 
his vassal, and on condition, that for the future, all Christians brought as cap 
tives to Tunis should be liberated without ransom. With 20,000 Christians 
released from slavery by the power of his arms the noblest trophy conqueror 
ever bore Charles returned in triumph to Europe. Not only did he restore 
these unfortunate captives to liberty, but he furnished all of them with suita 
ble apparel, and the means of returning 4 to their respective countries. Such 
munificence spread the fame of Charles over all the world ; for though it en 
tailed on him immense expense, he had personally gained nothing by the con- 


quest of Tunis : disinterestedly he had fought for the honor of the Christian 
name, for Christian security and welfare. Yet we regret to have to add one 
fact, highly characteristic of the age : when Charles left Africa, he also carried 
off 10,000 Mohammedans to be slaves for life, chained to the oars in the gal 
leys of Spain, Italy, and Malta. 

We must now return to Hayraddin, the second Barbarossa, whom we left in 
full retreat to Bona, where he had sagaciously sent his ships to be out of harm's 
way at Tunis. As soon as he arrived at Bona, he embarked his men, and put 
to sea. 

" Let us go to the Levant," said his officers, " and beg assistance from the 

" To the Levant, did you say ?" exclaimed the incensed pirate. " Am I a 
man to shew my back ? Must I fly for refuge to Constantinople ? Depend 
upon it, I am far more likely to attack the emperor's dominions in Flanders. 
Cease your prating; follow me, and obey orders." Steering for Minorca, he 
goon appeared off the well-fortified harbor of Port Mahon. The incautious 
Minorcans believing the pirates utterly exterminated, and that the gallant fleet 
entering their harbor was returning from the conquest of Tunis, ran to the port 
to greet and welcome the supposed victors. Not a gun was loaded, not a bat 
tery manned, when Hayraddin, swooping like an eagle on its prey, sacked the 
town, carried off an immense booty in money and military stores, and with 6000 
captive Minorcans, returned in triumph to Algiers. This was his last exploit 
that falls within our province to relate. Earnestly solicited by the sultan, he 
relinquished the pachalic to take supreme command of the Ottoman fleet. 
After a life spent in stratagem and war, he died at an advanced age ; and still 
along the Christian shores of the Mediterranean, mothers frighten their unruly 
children with the name of Barbarossa. 

Hassan Aga, a Sardinian renegade, was next appointed to the vice-royalty. 
A corsair from his youth, he was well fitted for the office, and during his rule 
the piratical depredations increased in number and audacity. The continuous 
line of watch-towers that engirdle the southern coast of Spain, and have so 
picturesque an effect at the present day, were built as a defense against Has 
san's cruisers. Once more all Europe turned to the emperor Charles for relief 
and protection Pope Paul III. wrote a letter imploring him " to reduce Al 
giers, which, since the conquest of Tunis, has been the common receptacle of 
all the freebooters, and to exterminate that lawless race, the implacable ene 
mies of the Christian faith." Moved by such entreaties,'and thirsting for glory, 
Charles equipped a fleet equal in magnitude to that with which he had con 
quered Tunis. A navy of 500 ships, an army of 27,000 picked men, and 150 
Knights of Malta, with noblemen and gentlemen volunteers of all nations, 
many of them English, sailed on this great expedition. To oppose such a 
powerful force, Hassan had only 800 Turks and 5000 Moors and Moriscos. On 
arriving at Algiers, Charles summoned the pacha to surrender, but received a 
most contemptuous reply. The troops were immediately disembarked, though 


with great difficulty, owing to stormy weather ; and the increasing gale cutting 
off communication with the fleet, before sufficient stores and camp equipage 
could be landed, Charles and his army were left with scanty provision, and ex 
posed to torrents of rain. A night passed in this miserable condition. The 
next day, the tempest increased. The next night, the troops, exhausted by 
want of food and exposure to the elements, were unable to lie down, the ground 
being knee-deep in mud. Hassan was too vigilant a warrior not to take ad 
vantage of this state of affairs. Before daybreak, on the second morning, with 
a strong body of horse and foot, he sallied out upon the Christian camp. Weak 
from hunger and want of rest, benumbed by exposure to the cold and rain, 
their powder wet, and their matches extinguished, the advanced division of 
Charles's army were easily defeated by Hassan's fresh and vigorous troops 
The main body advanced to the rescue, and after a sharp contest, Hassan's 
small detachment was repulsed, and driven back into the city. The Knights 
of Malta, among whom a chivalrous emulation existed with respect to which 
of them would first stick his dagger in the gate of Algiers, rashly following 
the retreating Hassan, led the army up to the city, where they were mowed 
down in hundreds by the fire from the walls. Retreating in confusion from this 
false position, they were again charged by Hassan's impetuous cavalry, and the 
Knights of Malta, to save the whole army from destruction, drew up in a body 
to cover the rear. Conspicuous by their scarlet upper garments, embroidered 
with a white cross, they served for a short time as a rallying-point ; but it was 
not till Charles, armed with sword and buckler, joined his troops, and stimu 
lated them to fresh exertions by fighting in their ranks, that the Algerines were 
compelled to return to their strongholds. In this desperate conflict, the Knights 
of Malta were nearly all killed. Only one of them, Ponce de Saliguac, the 
standard-bearer, had reached and stuck his dagger in the gate, but, pierced 
with innumerable wounds, he did not live to enjoy the honor of the foolhardy 
feat. Another night of tempest and privation followed this discouraging bat 
tle ; hundreds of the debilitated troops were blown down by the violence of the 
wind, and smothered in the mud. When the day broke, Charles saw 200 of his 
war-ships and transports, containing 8000 men, driven on shore, and such of 
their crews as were not swallowed up by the waves, led off into captivity by 
the exulting enemy. The rest of the fleet sought shelter under a headland 
four miles off, and thither Charles followed them ; but his famished troops, con 
tinually harassed by the enemy, were two days in retreating that short distance. 
With great difficulty, Charles, and a small remnant of his once powerful army, 
reached the ships, and made sail from the inhospitable coast. So many cap 
tives were taken, and such was their enfeebled condition, that numbers were 
sold by the captors for an onion each. " Do you remember the day when your 
countryman was sold for an onion ?' was for years afterwards a favorite taunt 
of the Algerine to the Spaniard. Enriched with slaves, valuable military and 
naval stores, treasure, horses, costly trappings all brought to their own doors 
the pride of the Algerines knew no bounds, and they sneeringly said that 


Charles brought them this immense plunder to save them the trouble of going 
to fetch it. Hassan generously refused to take any part of the spoil, saying 
that the honor of defeating the most powerful of Christian princes was quite 
sufficient for his share. 

After this great victory, the Algerines, confident of the impregnability of 
their city, turned their attention to increasing their power on sea. The ves 
sels hitherto used for warlike purposes in the Mediterranean were galleys, prin 
cipally propelled by oars rowed by slaves ; and in quickness of manoeuvre and 
capability of being propelled during a calm, were somewhat analgous to the 
steam-boat of the present day, and had a decided advantage over the less easily 
managed sailing-vessels. Not constructed to mount heavy ordnance, the sys 
tem of naval tactics adopted in the galleys was to close with the enemy, when 
ever eligible, and then the battle was fought with small-arms arrows, and even 
stones, being used as weapons of attack and defense. The Algerines, how 
ever, laboring in their vocation, as Falstaff would have said, captured many 
large ships of Northern Europe, built for long voyages and to contend with 
stormy seas. Equipping these with cannon, they were enabled to destroy the 
galleys before the latter could close with them ; and thus introducing a new 
system of naval warfare, they gained a complete ascendancy in the waters of the 
Mediterranean. Nor did they long confine their depredations to that sea. In 
1574, an Algerine fleet surprised the tunny fishery of the Duke of Medina, near 
Cadiz, and captured 200 slaves ; but one of the piratical vessels running ashore, 
a large number were retaken by their countrymen. In 1585, Morat, a cele 
brated corsair, landed at night on Lancelote, one of the Canary Islands, and 
carried off a large booty, with 300 prisoners ; among whom were the wife, 
mother, and daughter of the Spanish governor. Standing out to sea the next 
morning, until out of gun-range, the pirate hove-to, and showing a flag of 
truce, treated for the ransom of his captives ; and afterwards, eluding, by sea 
manship and cunning, a Spanish fleet waiting to intercept him at the mouth of 
the straits, exultingly returned to Algiers. In the following century, pushing 
their piracies still further, the English Channel became one of their regular 
cruising-grounds. In 1631, the town of Baltimore, in Ireland, was plundered 
by Morat Rais, a Flemish renegade, and 237 men, women, and children, " even 
to the babe in the cradle," carried off into captivity. Aware of the strong 
family affections of the Irish, we can well believe Pierre Dan, a Iledemptionist 
monk, who saw those poor creatures in Algiers. He says : " It was one of 
the most pitiable of sights to see them exposed for sale. There was not a 
Christian in Algiers who did not shed tears at the lamentations of these cap 
tives in the slave-market, when husband and wife, mother and child, were sep 
arated.* Is it not," indignantly adds the worthy father, " making the Al 
mighty a bankrupt, to sell His most precious property in this manner ?" About 
the same time, two corsairs, guided by a Danish renegade, proceeded as far as 

* At a later period, the Algerines did not separate slave-families. 


Iceland, where they captured no less than 800 persons, a few of whom wer 
ransomed several years afterwards by Christian IV., king of Denmark. 

The existence of such an organized system of piracy may well excite our 
wonder at the present day ; but the truth is, that since the time of the Vikings, 
to the latter part of the last century, the high seas were never clear of pirates 
belonging to one nation or another. Besides, the commercial jealousies and 
almost continual wars of the European nations, prevented them from uniting 
to crush the Barbary rovers. The English and Dutch maintained an extensive 
commerce with the Algerines, supplying them with gunpowder, arms, and na 
val stores ; and found it more profitable to pay their customers a heavy tribute 
for a sort of half-peace, than to be at open war with them. De Witt, the fa 
mous Dutch admiral and statesman, in his Interest of Holland, thus views the 
question: "Although," he says, "our ships should be well guarded by con 
voys against the Barbary pirates, yet it would by no means be proper to free 
the seas from those freebooters because we should thereby be put on the same 
footing as the French, Spanish, and Italians ; wherefore it is best to leave that 
thorn in the sides of those nations." An p]nglish statesman, in an official pa 
per written in 1671, amongst other objections to the surrender of Tangier, 
urges the advantage of making it an open port for the Barbary pirates to sell 
their prizes and refit at, in the same manner as they were permitted to do in 
the French ports. It is an actual fact that, in the seventeenth century, when 
England and France were at peace, Algerine cruisers frequently landed their 
English captives at Bordeaux, whence they were marched in handcuffs to Mar 
seille, and there reshipped in other vessels, and taken to Algiers. This pro 
ceeding was to avoid the risk of recapture in the Straits of Gibraltar, and also 
to allow the pirates to remain out longer on their cruise, enencumbered with 
prisoners. Numerous instances of the complicity of European powers with 
this nefarious system might be adduced. Sir Cloudesley Shovel, in 1703, pro 
tected a Barbary pirate from receiving a well-merited chastisement from a 
Dutch squadron ; but that need not surprise the reader, for at the same time 
the gallant admiral had power under the Great Seal to visit Algiers, Tunis, and 
Tripoli, make tine usual presents, and 'if he could prevail with them to make 
war against France, and that some act of hostility was thereupon committed, 
he was to give such further presents as he should think proper.' 

The political system of the Algerines requires a few words. The authority 
of the Porte was soon shaken off, and then the janizaries, or soldiers, forming 
a kind of aristocratic democracy, chose a governor from their own number, un 
der the familiar title of Dey (Uncle) ; and ruled the native Moors as an infe 
rior and conquered race. Neither Moor nor Morisco was permitted to have 
any voice in the government, or to hold any office under it ; the wealthiest na 
tive, if he met a janizary in the street, had to give way to let the proud soldier 
pass. The janizaries were all either Turks or renegades (slaves who had turned 
Mohammedans) : so strictly was this rule carried out, that the eon of a jani 
zary by a Moorish woman was not allowed the privileges of his father, though 

* , 


the offspring of a janizary and a Christian slave was recognized as one of the 
dominant race. The janizaries were in number about 12,000 ; their ranks were 
annually recruited by renegades and adventurous Turks from the Levant ; they 
served by sea as well as by land, and were employed in controlling the tribu 
tary native chiefs of the interior, and sailing in the piratical cruisers. Piracy 
being the basis of this system, the whole foreign policy of the Algerines con 
sisted in claiming the right of maintaining constant war with all Christian na 
tions that did not conciliate them by tribute and treaties. When a European 
consul arrived at Algiers, he always carried a large present to the dey, and as 
the latter would, in a short time, quarrel with and send away the consul, in ex 
pectation of receiving the usual present with his successor, it was found more 
convenient to make an occasional present, than incur the trouble and risk of a 
continual change of consuls. In course of time, these occasional presents be 
came a tribute of 17,000 dollars, regularly paid every two years. 

The miseries of Algeriue bondage have long been proverbial over all the 
Christian world, yet they appear light when calmly examined and contrasted 
with other systems of slavery. Most travelers in Mohammedan countries have 
remarked the general kindness with which slaves are treated. General Eaton, 
consul of the United States at Tunis in 1799, writes thus : " Truth and justice 
demand from me the confession, that the Christian slaves among the barbarians 
of Africa are treated with more humanity than the African slaves among the 
Christians of civilized America." John Wesley, when addressing those con 
nected with the negro slave-trade, said : " You have carried them into the 
vilest slavery, never to end but with life such slavery as is not to be found 
with the Turks at Algiers." In fact, the creed of Islam, not recognizing per 
petual and unconditional bondage, gave the slave a right of redemption by 
purchase, according to a precept of the Koran. This right of redemption was 
daily claimed and acknowledged in Barbary ; and though it was only the richer 
class that could immediately benefit by it, yet it was a great alleviation to the 
general hardship of the system ; and numbers of the poorer captives, by exer 
cise of their various trades and professions, realized money, and were in a short 
time able to redeem themselves. Again, no prejudice of race existed in the 
mind of the master against his unhappy bondsman. The meanest Christian 
slave, on becoming a Mohammedan, was free, and enrolled as a janizary, hav 
ing superior privileges even to the native Moor or Morisco, and he and his 
descendants were eligible to the highest offices in the state. Ladies, when 
captured, were invariably treated with respect, and, till ransomed, lodged in a 
building set apart for that purpose, under the charge of a high officer, similar 
to our mayor. The most perfect toleration was extended to the exercise of 
the Christian religion ; the four great festivals of the Roman Church Christ 
mas, Easter, and the nativities of St. John and the Virgin were recognized 
as holidays for the slaves. We read of a large slaveholder purchasing a priest 
expressly for the spiritual comfort of his bondsmen ; and of other masters who 
regularly, once a week, marched their slaves off to confession. The Algerines 


were shrewd enough to prefer a religious slave to his less conscientious fellows. 
"Christianity," they used to say, "was better for a man than no religion at 
all." Nor were they zealous to make adult converts. "A bad Christian," 
they said, "can never make a good Mussulman." It was only slaves of known 
good character and conduct who were received into the Moslem community. 
Children, however, were brought up Mohammedans, adopted in families, and 
became the heirs of their adoptors. Captured ecclesiastics were treated with 
respect, never set to work, but allowed to join the religious houses established 
in Algiers. 

One of the greatest alleviations to the miseries of the captives was the hos 
pital founded for their benefit, by that noble order of monks, the Trinitarian 
Brothers of Redemption. This order was instituted in 1188, during the pon 
tificate of Innocent III. Its founder, Jean Matha, was a native of Provence, 
and, accordiug to the old chronicles, a saint from his birth ; for when a baby 
at the breast, he voluntarily abstained every fast-day ! Having entered the 
priesthood, on performing his first mass, an extraordinary vision was witnessed 
by the congregation. An angelic being, clothed in white raiment, appeared 
above the altar, with an imploring expression of countenance, and arms cross 
ed ; his hands were placed on the heads of two fettered slaves, as if he wished 
to redeem them. The fame of this miracle soon spread to Rome. Journey 
ing thither, Matha said mass before the pope ; and the wonderful apparition 
being repeated, Innocent granted the requisite concessions for instituting the 
order of Redemptionists, whose sole object was to collect alms, and apply 
them to the relief and redemption of Christian slaves. With whatever degree 
of suspicion such conventual legends may be regarded, it is gratifjjjug to find 
that the order was truly a blessed charity, and that Englishmen were 
among the earliest and most zealous of its members. Within a year from its 
institution, Brother John, of Scotland, a professor at Oxford, and Brother 
William, of England, a priest in London, departed on the first voyage of 
redemption, and after many dangers and hardships, returned from the East 
with 1286 ransomed slaves. It was not, however, till 1551, that the order 
was enabled to form a regular establishment in Algiers. In that year, Brother 
Sebastian purchased a large building, and converted it into an hospital for sick 
and disabled slaves. As neither work nor ransom could be got out of a dead 
slave, the masters soon perceived the benefit of the hospital, and they levied a 
tax on all Christian vessels frequenting the port to aid in sustaining it. Among 
so many captives, there were always plenty of experienced medical men to 
perform the requisite duties ; and no inconsiderable revenue to the funds of the 
institution was derived by dispensing medicines and advice to the Moslems. 
A Father Administrator and two brothers of the order constantly resided in 
Algiers to manage the affairs of the hospital, which from time to time was 
extended and improved, till it became one of the largest and finest buildings 
in the city. The owners of slaves who received the benefit of this charity, 
contributed nothing towards it, but on each slave being admitted, his proprie- 


tor paid one dollar to the Father Administrator, which, if the patient recover 
ed, was returned to the master, but if he died, was kept to defray his funeral 
expenses. For a long period, there was no place of interment allotted to the 
captives ; their dead bodies were thrown outside the city walls, to be devoured 
by the hordes of street-dogs which infest the towns of Mohammedan countries. 
At length, by the noble self-denial of a private individual, whose name, we 
regret to say, we are unable to trace, a slave's burial ground was obtained. A 
Capuchin friar, the friend and confessor of Don John of Austria, natural so 
of the Emperor Charles V., was taken captive. Knowing the esteem in which 
he was held by the prince, an immense sum was demanded for his ransom. 
The money was immediately forwarded , but instead of purchasing his freedom, 
the disinterested philanthropist bought a piece of ground for a burial-place for 
Christian slaves, and, devoting himself to solace the spiritual and temporal 
wants of his unhappy co-religionists, uncomplainingly passed the rest of his 
life in exile and captivity. 

A few years after the founding of this House of the Spanish Hospital, as it 
was termed, another Christian religious establishment, the House of the French 
Mission, was planted in Algiers. A certain Duchess d'Eguillon, at the sug 
gestion of the celebrated philanthropist Vincent de Paul, who had himself 
been an Algerine captive, commenced this good work by an endowment of 
4,000 livres per annum. These two religious houses were exempted from all 
duties or taxes, and mass was performed in them daily with all the pomp and 
splendor of the Romish Church. There was also a chapel in each of the six 
bagnes the prisons where the slaves were confined at night in which service 
was performed on Sundays and holidays. The Greek Church had also a chapel 
and small establishment in one of the bagnes. Brother Comelin, of the order 
of redemption, tells us, in his Voyage, that they celebrated Christmas in the 
Spanish Hospital " with the same liberty and as solemnly as in Christendom. 
Midnight mass was chanted to the sound of trumpets, drums, flutes, and haut 
boys ; so that in the stillness of night the infidels heard the worship of the 
true God over all their accursed city, from ten at night till two in the morning." 
Such wag Mohammedan toleration in Algiers, at the period, too, we should 
recollect, of the high and palmy days of the Inquisition. We may easily con 
ceive what would have been the fate of the infidels if they, by any chance, had 
invaded the midnight silence of Rome or Madrid with the sounds of their 
worship. The only exceptions to the general good treatment and respect be 
stowed upon Christian ecclesiastics in Algiers was, when inspired by a furious 
zeal for martyrdom, they openly insulted the Mohammedan religion ; or when 
the populace were excited by forced conversions and other intolerant cruelties 
practiced upon Mussulman slaves in Europe. We shall briefly mention two 
instances of such occurrences. 

One Pedro, a brother of Redemption, had traveled to Mexico and Peru, 
and collected in those rich countries a vast amount of treasure for the order. 
He then went to Algiers, where he employed half the money in ransoming 


captives, and the other half in repairing and increasing the usefulness of the 
hospital, where he resided, constantly attending and consoling the sick slaves. 
At last, thirsting for martyrdom, he one day rushed into a mosque, and, with 
crucifix in hand, cursed and reviled the false Prophet Mohammed. In all 
Mohammedan countries, the penalty of this offense is death. But so much 
were the piety and good works of Pedro respected by the Algerine govern 
ment, that they anxiously endeavored to avoid inflicting the punishment of 
their law. Earnestly they solicited him, with promise of free pardon, to ac 
knowledge that he was intoxicated or deranged when he committed the rash 
act, but in vain. Pedro was burned ; and one of his leg-bones was long care 
fully preserved as a holy relic in the Spanish Hospital. 

In 1612, a young Mohammedan lady, fifteen years of age, named Fatima, 
daughter of Meheniet Aga, a man of high rank in Algiers, when on her way 
to Constantinople to be married, was captured by a Christian cruiser, carried 
into Corsica, and a very large sum of money demanded for her ransom. The 
distressed father speedily sent the money by two relatives, who were furnished 
with safe-conduct passes by the brothers of Redemption. On their arrival in 
Corsica, they were informed that the young lady had become a Christian, was 
christened Maria Eugenia, and married to a Corsican gentleman ; and that the 
money brought for her ransom must be appropriated as her dowry. The rela 
tives were permitted to see Maria ; she declared her name was still Fatima ; 
and that her baptism and marriage were forced upon her. The return of the 
relatives without either the lady or the money caused great excitement in Al 
giers. By way of retaliation, the brothers of Redemption were loaded with 
chains, and thrown into prison, and compelled to pay Mehemet Aga a sum 
equal to that which he had sent for his daughter's ransom. In a short time, 
however, they were released, and permitted to resume their customary duties. 

When returning from a successful cruise, as soon as an Algerine corsair ar 
rived within sight of the harbor, her crew commenced firing guns of rejoicing 
and triumph, and continued them at intervals until she came to anchor. Sum 
moned by these signals of success, the inhabitants would flock in numbers to 
the port, there to learn the value of the prize, the circumstances of its capture, 
and to congratulate the pirates. Morgan, a quaint old writer, many years 
attached to the British consulate, says : " These are the times when Algiers 
very visibly puts on a quite new countenance, and it may well be compared to 
a great bee-hive. All is hurry, every one busy, and a cheerful aspect succeeds 
a strange gloom and discontent, like what is to be seen everywhere else, when 
the complaint of dullness of trade, scarcity of business, and stagnation of cash 
reigns universal ; and which is constantly to be seen in Algiers during every 
interval between the taking of good prizes." The dey received the eighth part 
of the value of all prizes, for the service of the government, and had the priv 
ilege of selecting his share of the captives, who were brought from the vessel 
to the court-yard of his palace, where the European consuls attended to claim 
any of their countrymen who might be considered free in accordance with the 


terms of previous treaties. In many instances, however, little respect was paid 
by the strong-handed captors to such documents. The following reply of one 
of the deys to a remonstrance of the English consul, contains the general an 
swer given on such occasions: "The Algerines being born pirates, and not 
able to subsist by any other means, it is the Christians' business to be always 
on their guard, even in time of peace ; for-if we were to observe punctilios with 
all those nations who purchase peace and liberty from us, we might set fire to 
our shipping, and become degraded to be camel-drivers." When the newly 
made captives were mustered in the dey's court-yard, their names, ages, coun 
tries, and professions, were minutely taken down by a hojia, or government 
secretary, appointed for the purpose ; and then the dey proceeded to make his 
selection of every eighth person, and of course took care to choose such as, 
from their appearance and description, were likely to pay a smart ransom, or 
those acquainted with the more useful professions and the mechanical arts. 
After the dey had taken his share, the remainder of the prisoners, being the 
property of their captors, were taken to the bestian, or slave-market, and ap 
praised, a certain value being set upon each individual. From the slave-market 
the unfortunates were then led back to the court-yard, and there sold by public 
auction ; and whatever price was, obtained higher than the valuation of the 
slave-market, became the perquisite of the dey. 

The government, or, in other words, the dey, was the largest slaveholder in 
Algiers. All the slaves belonging to the government were termed deylic slaves, 
and distinguished by a small ring of iron fastened round the wrist or ankle ; 
and excepting those who were employed in the palace, or hired out as domestic 
servants, were locked up every night in six large buildings called bagnes. 
Rude beds were provided in the bagnes, and each deylic slave received three 
small loaves of bread per day, and occasionally some coarse cloth for clothing. 
All the carpenters, blacksmiths, masons, ropemakers, and others among the 
deylic slaves who worked at trades connected with house and ship-building, 
received a third part of what they earned, when hired out to private persons, 
and even the same sum was paid to them when employed on government works. 
Besides, both at the laying down of the keel and launch of a new ship, a hand 
some gratuity was given to all the slave-mechanics employed upon her. Indeed, 
all the work connected with ship-building was performed by Christian slaves. 

The janizaries never condescended to do any kind of work ; the native Moors 
were too lazy and too ignorant ; and the Moriscos being forbidden, by the 
jealons policy of the dominant Turkish race, to practice the arts they brought 
with them from Spain, sank, after the first generation, to a level with the native 
Moor. Shipwrights were consequently well treated, many of them earning 
better wages than they could in their own countries. Numbers were thus en 
abled to purchase their freedom ; but many more, seduced by the sensual de 
baucheries so prevalent wherever slavery is recognized, preferred remaining in 
Algiers as slaves or renegades, to returning as freemen to their native lands. 
Deylic slaves, when hired out as sailors, received one third of their hire, and 


one-third of a freeman's share in the prize-money. Invariably at the hour oi 
prayer termed Al Aasar, all work was stopped for the day, and the remaining 
three hours between that time and sunset were allowed to the slaves for their 
own use ; on Friday, the Mohammedan Sabbath, they were never set to work ; 
and besides the Christian holidays already mentioned, they had a week's rest 
during the seasom of Ramadam. Such of the deylic slaves as were employed 
at the more laborious work of drawing and carrying timber, stone, and other 
heavy articles, were divided into gangs, and taken out to work only on alternate 

Many slaves never did an hour's work during their captivity ; for by the 
payment of a monthly sum, equivalent to about seventy cents of our money, 
any one might be exempted from labor ; and even those who could afford to 
fee their overseers only with a smaller sum, were put to the lightest description 
of toil. Slaves when in treaty for ransom were never required to work ; and 
as no person was permitted to leave Algiers in debt, money was freely lent at 
moderate interest to those whose circumstances entitled them to hope for ran 
som. Money, also, was readily obtained through the Jews, by drawing bills 
of exchange on the various mercantile cities of Europe. Many slaves, how 
ever, by working at trades and other means, were enabled to pay the tax for 
immunity from public labor, and support themselves comfortably in the bagnes. 
Of this latter class were tailors, shoemakers, and, strange to say, a good many 
managed to live well by theft alone. In each bagne were five or six licensed 
wine-shops, kept by slaves. This was the most profitable business open to a 
captive a wine-shop keeper frequently making the price of his ransom in 
one year ; but, preferring wealth to liberty, these persons generally remained 
slaves until they were able to retire with considerable fortunes. As there was 
constantly free ingress and egress to and from all the bagnes during the day, 
the wine-shops were always crowded with people of all nations ; and though 
nominally for the use of the slaves, yet the renegades, who had not forgotten 
their relish for wine, drank freely therein ; and even many of the " turbaned 
Turks," forgetting the law of their Prophet, copiously indulged in the forbidden 
beverage. The Moslem, however, was, like Cassio, choleric in his drink, and 
frequently, brandishing his weapon, and threatening the lives of all about him, 
would refuse to pay his shot. As no Christian dare strike a Mussulman, an 
ingenious device was resorted to on such occasions. A stout slave, regularly 
employed for the purpose, would, at a signal from the landlord, adroitly drop 
a short ladder over the reeling brawler's head ; by this means, without striking 
a blow, he was speedily brought to the ground, where he was secured till his 
senses were restored by sleep ; and then, if found to hare no money, the land 
lord was entitled to retain his arms until the reckoning was paid. 

The largest private slaveholder in Algiers was one Alii Pichellin, Capitan 
Pasha, or High- Admiral of the fleet, who flourished about the middle of the 
seventeenth century, and holds a conspicuous position in the Algerine history 
of the period. He generally possessed from 800 to 900 slaves, whom he kept 


in a bagne of his own. Emanuel d'Aranda, a Flemish gentleman, who was 
for some time Pichellin's slave, gives a curious account of bague-life as he wit 
nessed it. The bagiie resembled a long narrow street, with high gates at each 
end, which were shut every evening after the slaves were mustered at sunset, and 
opened at sunrise every morning. Though the deylic slaves each received three 
loaves of bread per day for their sustenance, Pichellin never gave any food 
whatever to his slaves, unless they were employed at severe labor ; for he said 
that "a man was unworthy the name of slave, if he could not earn or steal 
between Al Aasar and Al Magrib," (the three hours before sunset allowed to 
the slaves,) " sufficient to support him for the rest of the day." We may ob 
serve here, that a Moor, Morisco, or Jew, if detected in a theft, was punished 
by the loss of his right hand, and by being opprobiously paraded through the 
streets mounted upon an ass. At the same time, neither Moor nor Jew dare 
even accuse a janizary of so disgraceful a crime. Slaves, however, might 
steal from Moor or Jew with open impunity ; for even if caught in the act, 
neither dare strike a slave ; and if complaint was made to the dey, he would 
merely order the restitution of the stolen goods, refusing to inflict punishment 
on the following grounds : " That as the Koran did not condemn a man who 
stole to satisfy his hunger, and as a slave was not a free agent, but compelled 
to depend upon his master for food, he could not legally be punished for theft." 
Under such circumstances, we may readily believe that the bagnes, and espe 
cially that of Pichellin, were complete dens of thieves. Every evening, as 
soon as the gates were closed, the plunder of the day was brought forth and 
sold by auction ; the sale being conducted, to the great amusement of the 
slaves, with all the Turkish gravity and formality of the slave-market. Articles 
not thus disposed of were left in the hands of one of the captives, who made 
it his business, for a small commission, to negotiate between the loser and the 
thief, and accept ransom for the stolen property. An Italian in Pichellin's 
bagne, named Fontimaua, was so expert and confident a thief, that without 
possessing the smallest fraction of money in the morning, he would invite a 
party of friends to sup with him in the evening, trusting to his success in 
thieving through the day to provide the materials for the feast. Of course no 
satisfaction was obtained when the sufferers complained to Pichellin. " The 
Christians," he would say, "are all pilfering rascals. I cannot help it. You 
must be more careful for the future. Have you yet to learn that all my slaves 
wear hooks at the ends of their fingers ? " Indeed, he seems to have recog 
nized the slaves' right of theft so fully, that he was not angry when he himself 
became the victim. On one occasion, Fontimana stole and sold the anchor of 
his master's galley. " How dare you sell my anchor, you Christian dog ? " 
said Pichelliu. "I thought," replied the thief, "that the galley would sail 
better without the additional weight." The master laughed at the impudent 
reply, and said no more on the subject. Another characteristic anecdote is 
recorded of Pichellin and a Portuguese slave, his confidential steward and 
chamberlain. One day, when cruising off the coast of Portugal, the Capitan 


Pasha ran his vessel close in towards the land, and having ordered the small 
boat to be lowered, called the slave, and pointing to the beach, said : " There 
is your native country. You have served me faithfully for seventeen years. I 
now give you your freedom." The Portuguese, falling on his knees, kissed the 
hem of his late master's robe, and was profuse in his thanks ; but Pichellin 
stopped him, coolly saying : " Do not thank me, but G-od, who put it into my 
heart te restore you to liberty." While the boat was being prepared to land 
him, the Portuguese, apparently overpowered with feelings of joy, descended 
into the cabin, as if to conceal his emotions, but in reality to steal Pichellin's 
most valuable jewels and other portable property, which he quickly concealed 
round his person. As soon as the boat was ready, Pichellin ordered him to 
be set ashore, and not long after discovered his loss when the wily Portuguese 
was far out of his reach. Pichellin had some rough virtues : he prided him 
self on being a man of his word. A Genoese, who had made a fortune by 
trade at Cadiz, was returning to his native country with his only child, a girl 
nine years of age, when his vessel was taken on the coast of Spain by Pichel 
lin's cruiser. Not being far from land, the crew of the Christian vessel escaped 
to the shore, the terrified Genoese going with them, leaving his daughter in 
the hands of the pirates. Immediately, when he saw that his child was a cap 
tive, he waded into the water, and waved his hat as a signal to the Algerines, 
who, thinking he might be a Moslem captive about to escape, sent a boat for 
him. On reaching the cruiser, Pichellin, seeing a Christian, exclaimed : "What 
madman are you that voluntarily surrenders himself a slave ? " " That girl is 
my daughter," said the Genoese : " I could not leave her. If you will set us 
to ransom, I will pay it; if not, the satisfaction of having done my duty will 
enable me to support the hardships of slavery." Pichellin appeared struck, 
and after musing a moment, said : "I will take fifteen hundred dollars for the 
ransom of you and your daughter." "I will pay it," replied the Genoese. 
" Hold, master ! " exclaimed one of Pichellin's slaves ; " I know that man well: 
he was one of the richest merchants in Cadiz, and can afford to pay ten times 
that amount for ransom." "Silence, dog!" said the old pirate. "I have 
said it : my word is my word." Pichellin was further so accommodating as to 
take the merchant's bill for the money, and set him and his daughter ashore at 

Each slave who, from poverty, ignorance of a trade, or want of cunning, 
was compelled to work in the gangs, always carried a bag and a spoon the 
bag, to hold anything he might chance to steal ; the spoon, in case any char 
itable person, as was frequently the case, should present him with a mess of 
pottage. Only those, however, worked in the gangs who could not by any 
possibility avoid it ; and numberless were the schemes adopted by the slaves 
to raise money to support themselves and secure their exemption from that 
description of labor. Some, at the risk of the bastinado, smuggled brandy 
a strictly forbidden article into the bagues, and sold it out in small quantities 
to such as wanted it. Scholars were well employed by their less learned fA 


low-captives, to correspond with friends in Europe. Latin was the language 
preferred for this correspondence, because it was unintelligible to the masters ; 
and the letters frequently contained allusions to property, family affairs, and 
other circumstances, which, if known, would raise the price of ransom. The 
great object of all the captives whose wealth entitled them to hopes of ransom, 
was to simulate poverty, concealing their real circumstances or station in life 
as much as possible ; and not unfrequently the Algerines, deceived by those 
professions, permitted persons of wealth and consequence to redeem themselves 
for a trifling sum. On the other hand, persons in much poorer circumstances 
were often detained a long time in slavery, ill treated, and held to a high ran 
som, on the bare suspicion of their being wealthy. The Jews, though not 
permitted to possess slaves, had, through their commercial ramifications in 
Europe, means of obtaining correct intelligence respecting the property and 
affairs of many captives, which they did not fail to profit by, receiving a per 
centage on the increased ransom gained by their information. In a similar 
way, some artful old slaves, of various countries, lived well by making friends 
with new captives, treating them at the wine-shops, and, under the pretext of 
advising them how to act, inducing them to reveal their true circumstances, 
which the spy immediately communicated to his master. A grave Spanish 
cavalier made his living by settling quarrels among his countrymen, and decid 
ing all disputes respecting rank, precedence, and the code of honor ; a small 
fee being paid by each of the parties, and his decision invariably respected. 
A French gentleman contrived to live, and dress well, and give frequent dinner 
parties, by a curious financial scheme he invented and practiced. Knowing 
many of the French renegades, he borrowed money from them for certain 
periods at moderate interest ; and as one sum fell due he met it by a loan from 
a new creditor. This system, at first sight, would not appear to be profitable ; 
but the renegades being constantly employed in the cruisers, as in a state 
of continual warfare, some of the creditors were either killed or captured 
yearly, and having no heirs, the debts were thus canceled in the French cap 
tive's favor. " In fine," says D'Aranda, to whom we are indebted for the pre 
ceding peculiarities of bagne-life, " there can be no better university to teach 
men how to shift for their livelihood ; for all the nations made some shift to live 
save the English, who, it seems, are not so shift-fill as others. During the win 
ter I spent in the bagne, more than twenty of that nation died from pure want." 
It Is clear that the unfortunate captives here alluded to must have been persons 
unfit for labor, and unable to procure ransom ; and thus, being of no service 
to their brutal master, were suffered to live or die as it might happen. There 
can be no doubt that the English and Dutch captives, of the reformed churches, 
suffered more privations than any others at that period, ere knowledge and 
intercourse had dulled the fiery edge of religious bigotry. All the public 
charities for slaves were founded by the Roman Church, and their bounties 
exclusively bestowed on its followers. No relief was ever given to a heretic 
unless he became a convert ; and it is an exceedingly curious illustration of 


this religious hatred, that it was as rife and virulent in the breasts of the ren 
egades who had adopted Mohammedanism, as it was amongst those who 
remained Christians. Another great disadvantage which the English captives 
must have labored under, was their ignorance of the language. The lingua 
franca spoken in Algiers was a compound of French, Spanish, and Italian, 
with a few Arabic words ; consequently, any native of those countries could 
acquire it in a few days, while the unfortunate Briton might be months before 
he could express his meaning or understand what was said to him. 

The hardships of slavery were, in all truth, insufficient to extinguish the 
religious and national animosities of the captives. Dreadful conflicts fre 
quently occurred between the partisans of the eastern and western churches 
Spaniards and Italians uniting to batter orthodoxy into the heads of schismatic 
Greeks and Russians. Nor were such disturbances quelled until a strong body 
of guards, armed with ponderous cudgels, vigorously attacking both parties, 
beat them into peaceful submission. Life was not unfrequently lost in these 
contests. A most serious one, in which several hundred slaves took part ou 
both sides, occurred during D'Aranda's captivity. At the feast of the As 
sumption, the altar of one of the churches was decorated with the Portuguese 
arms, with the motto: "God will exalt the humble, and bring down the 
haughty." The Spaniards, conceiving this to be an insulting reflection on 
their national honor, tore down the obnoxious decoration, and trampled it 
under their feet. The Portuguese immediately retaliated, and a battle ensued 
between the captives of the two nations, which lasted a considerable time, and 
cost several lives. The ringleaders were severely bastinadoed by their mas 
ters, who tauntingly told them to sell their lands and purchase their freedom, 
and then they might fight for the honor of their respective countries as long 
and as much as they liked. It is pleasing, however, after reading of such 
scenes, to find that the slaves frequently got up theatrical performances. One 
of their favorite pieces was founded on the history of Belisarius. 

The negotiations for ransom were either carried on through the Fathers of 
Redemption, the European consuls, or by the slaves themselves. When a 
province of the order of Redemption had raised a sufficiently large sum, the 
resident Father Administrator in Algiers procured a pass from the dey, per 
mitting two fathers to come from Europe to make the redemption. The rule 
of the order was, that young women and children were to be released first ; 
then adults belonging to the same nation as the ransomers ; and after that, if 
the funds permitted, natives of other countries. But, in general, the fathers 
brought with them a list of the persons to be released, who had been recom 
mended to their notice by political, ecclesiastical, or other interest. Slaves, 
who had earned and were willing to pay part of their ransom, found favor in 
the eyes of the fathers ; and slaves with very long beards, or of singular 
emaciated appearance, were purchased with a view to future effect, in the grand 
processional displays made by the Redemptionists on their return to Europe. 

From a published narrative of a voyage of Redemption made in 1720, we 


extract the following amusing account of an interview between two French 
Kedemptionists and the dey. The fathers had redeemed their contemplated 
number of captives with the exception of ten belonging to the dey, but he, 
piqued that his slaves had not been purchased first, demanded so high a price 
lor each, that they were unwillingly compelled to ransom only three a French 
gentleman, his son, and a surgeon. " These slaves being brought in, we offer 
ed the price demanded (3,000 dollars) for them. The dey said he would give 
us another into the bargain. This was a tall, well-made young Hollander, one 
of the dey's household, who was also present. We remonstrated with the dey, 
that this fourth would not do for us, he being a Lutheran, and also not of our 
country. The dey's officers laughed, and said, he is a good Catholic. The 
dey said he neither knew nor cared about that. The man was a Christian, and 
that he should go along with the other three for 5,000 dollai-s." 

After a good deal of fencing, and the dey having reduced his demand by 
500 dollars, the father continues : " We yet held firm to have only the three 
we had offered 3,000 dollars for. ' All this is to no purpose,' said the dey; ' I 
am going to send all four to you, and, willing or not willing, you shall have 
them at the price I specified, nor shall you leave Algiers until you have paid 
it.' But we still held out, spite of all his threats, telling him that he was 
master of his own dominions, but that our money falling short, we could not 
purchase slaves at such a price. We then took leave of him, and that very day 
he sent us the three slaves we had cheapened, and let us know we should have 
the other on the day of our departure." The reader will not be sorry to learn 
that the fathers were ultimately compelled to purchase and take away with 
them the "young Lutheran Hollander " 

The primary object of the Redemptionists being to raise money for the ran 
som of captives, every advantage was taken to appeal successfully to the sym 
pathies of the Christian world, and no method was more remunerative than 
the grand processions which they made with the liberated slaves on their return 
to Europe. Father Comelin gives us full particulars of these proceedings. 
The ransomed captives, dressed in red Moorish caps and white bornouses, and 
wearing chains they never wore them in Algiers were met at the entrance 
of each town they passed through by all the clerical, civil, municipal, and mil 
itary dignitaries of the place. Banners, wax-candles, music, and "angels 
covered with gold, silver, and precious stones," accompanied them in grand 
procession through the town ; the chief men of the district carrying silver 
salvers, on which they collected money from the populace, to be applied to 
future redemptions. 

The first general ransom of British captives was made by money apportion 
ed by parliament for the purpose, during the exciting events of the civil war. 
The first vessel dispatched was unfortunately burned in the Lay of Gibraltar, 
and the treasure lost. A fresh sum of money was again granted ; and in 1646, 
Mr. Cason, the parliamentary agent, arrived at Algiers. In his official dis 
patch to the " Committee of the Navy," the agent states that, counting 
renegades, there were then 750 English captives in Algiers ; and proceeds to 


say that " they come to much more a head than I expected ; the reason is, there 
be many women and children, which cost 50 per head, first penny, and might 
sell for 100. Besides, there are divers which were masters of ships, calkers, 
carpenters, sailmakers, coopers, and surgeons, and others who are highly es 
teemed." The agent succeeded in redeeming 244 English, Scotch, and Irish 
captives at the average cost of 38 each. From the official record of their 
several names, places of birth, and prices, it appears that more was paid for 
the females than the males. The three highest sums on the list are 75, paid 
for Mary Bruster, of Youghal ; 65, for Alice Hayes, of Edinburgh ; and 
50, for Elizabeth Mancor, of Dundee. The names of several natives of 
Baltimore in all probability some of those carried off when that town was 
sacked fifteen years before are in this list of redeemed. It will scarcely be 
believed, that strong opposition was made by the mercantile interest against 
money being granted by parliament for the ransom of those poor captives on 
the ground, as the opposers' petition expresses : " That if the slaves be re 
deemed upon a public score, then seamen will render themselves to the mercy 
of the Algerines, and not fight in defense of the goods and ships of the mer 
chants." A more curious instance of wisdom in relation to this subject, 
occurred during the profligate reign of the second Charles. A large sum 
of money appropriated for the redemption of captives having been lost, 
somehow, between the Navy Board and the Commissioners of Excise, it was 
gravely proposed : " That whatever loss or damage the English shall sustain 
from Algerines, shall be required and made good to the losers out of the 
estates of the Jews here in England. Because such a law may save a great 
expense of Christian treasure and blood ! " 

The first attempt to release English captives by force from Algiers was made 
in 1621, after the project had been debated in the privy council for nearly four 
years. With the exception of rescuing about thirty slaves of various nations, 
who swam off to the English ships, this expedition turned out a perfect fail 
ure. In 1662, another fleet was sent, a treaty was made with the dey, and 150 
captives ransomed with money raised by the English clergy in their several 
parishes. In 1664, 1672, 1682, and 1686, other treaties were made with the 
Algerines : the frequent recurrence of those treaties shows the little attention 
paid to them by the pirates. 

In 1682, Louis XIV. determined to stop the Algerine aggressions on France; 
and at the same time to try a new and terrible invention in the art of war. 
Renau d'Elicagarry had just laid before the French government a plan for 
building ships of sufficient strength to bear the recoil caused by firing bombs 
from mortars. Louis, accordingly, sent Admiral Duquesne with a fleet and 
some of the new bomb-vessels to destroy Algiers. The expedition was unsuc 
cessful, the bombs proving nearly as destructive to the French as to their 
enemies. The next year, Duquesne returned, and, taught by experience, suc 
ceeded in firing all his bombs into the pirate city. The terrified dey capitulated, 
and surrendered 600 slaves to the fleet ; but sixty-four of those unfortunate 
captives being discovered by the French officers to be Englishmen, were scut 


back to the dey ! While a treaty was in preparation, the janizaries, indignant 
at the loss of their slaves, murdered the dey, elected another, and manning 
their forts, commenced firing upon the French. Duquesne's bombs being all 
expended, he was obliged to sheer off and return to France. In 1688, Mar 
shal d'Estrees, with a powerful fleet, arrived off Algiers. The bombs told 
with terrible effect, and the dey soon sued for peace ; but d'Estrees replied that 
he came not to treat, but to punish. On this occasion, 10,000 bombs were 
thrown into Algiers ; the city was reduced to ruins, and the humbled pirates 
compelled to sign a treaty dictated by the conqueror. In a few years, how 
ever, the demolished fortifications were reerected stronger than ever, and the 
incoi'rigible Algerines busy at their old trade of piracy. 

Algerine slavery at last came to an end. At the close of the long European 
war in 1814, the chivalrous Sir Sidney Smith proposed a union of all orders 
of knighthood for the abolition of white slavery. His plan was to form " an 
amphibious force, to be termed the Knights Liberators, which, without com 
promising any flag, and without depending on the wars or political events of 
nations, should constantly guard the Mediterranean, and take upon itself the 
important office of watching, pursuing, and capturing all pirates by sea and 
land." Though Sir Sidney's project fell to the ground, yet it had the good 
effect of calling the attention of the British nation to the subject ; and in 1816, 
Lord Exmouth, with an English fleet, sailed to Algiers, destroyed the dey's 
shipping, leveled the fortifications, released altogether about 3,000 captives, 
and abolished forever the atrocious system of Christian slavery. The subse 
quent history of Algiers is foreign to our subject ; we may merely add, that in 
] 830 it became, by right of conquest, a French colony. 

Limited space compels us to say but little respecting the other piratical 
states of Barbary Tunis, Tripoli, and Morocco. They, however, only dab 
bled in piratical slavery, not making it a systematized profession like the Al 
gerines. When, about the middle of the seventeenth century, there were 
upwards of 30,000 Christian slaves in Algiers, there were not more than 7,000 
in Tunis, 5,000 in Tripoli, and 1,500 in Morocco. In the latter part of the 
sixteenth century, Tunis and Tripoli fell under the power of the Porte, and for 
some time were ruled by Turkish viceroys ; but in a few years the janizaries, 
as at Algiers, elected their own rulers ; and subsequently the native race, over 
powering the janizaries, gained the ascendency over their Ottoman masters. 
Since Blake humbled the pride of the Tunisians in 1665, and Narbro burned 
the Tripolitan fleet in 1676, neither of those states has inflicted much injury 
on British shipping. The treatment of slaves at Tunis and Tripoli was con 
sidered to be even milder than at Algiers : the Brothers of Redemption had 
establishments at both places. It was with Tripoli, in 1796, that the United 
States, through their envoy, Joel Barlow, made the treaty which caused so 
much animadversion. In that treaty, Mr. Barlow, to conciliate the Moham 
medan powers, declared that "the government of the United States of America 
is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion." Notwithstanding so 
bold an assertion, the faithless Tripolitans declared war against the United 


States in 1801 ; and after a contest highly creditable to the American navy 
then in its infancy, peace was concluded between the two powers, and 200 cap 
tives released from slavery. Both Tunis and Tripoli quietly renounced tin 
practice of Christian slavery, when solicited to do so by Lord Exmouth, ir- 

All the territories which formed part of the Roman Empire in Africa, sub 
sequently fell under the sway of Constantinople, except Morocco. Its fertile 
soil, almost within cannon-shot of Europe, " on the very verge and hem of 
civilization," has ever attracted European cupidity, and the patriotic energj 
of its people has ever repelled Christian domination. Almost all the semi- 
barbarous states of the world have fallen a prey to European ambition and 
enterprise; not only dynasties, but races have been extinguished; and yet Mo 
rocco is still as free from foreign influence as the surf of the Atlantic that 
thunders on its sands. At one period, indeed, almost subjugated, it was little 
more than a Portuguese province, when the Cherifs, a family of mendicant 
fanatics, claiming to be. the lineal descendants of Mohammed, expelled the in 
vaders, and founded the present dynasty. Spain, it is true, still holds two fort 
resses as penal settlements on the coast ; but no Spaniard can ever look over 
an embrasure on the land : side without being saluted with a long Moorish rifle. 
It is an actual fact, that the governors of those prison forts receive intelligence 
of what passes in the interior of Morocco, from Madrid. 

As in other parts of Barbary, it was the Moriscos, after their expulsion 
from Spain, that founded the system of piratical slavery in Morocco. Who 
has not read of the Sallee rovers in Robinson Crusoe, and the old ballads ? 
Yet, compared with the Algerine, theirs was, after all, a very pettj kind of 
piracy. The harbor of Sallee, the principal port of Morocco, being only 
suitable for vessels drawing little water, piracy was carried on h galleys and 
row-boats, and was formidable only to small unarmed vesselc. In 1637, an 
English fleet, under Admiral Rainborough, took Sallee, a;,6 released 290 
British captives "as many as would have cost 10,000.'' Soon after, the 
emperor of Morocco sent an ambassador to London, who, on his presentation 
to Charles I., went to court in procession, taking with hLu a number of liber 
ated captives dressed in white, and many hawks and Barbary horses splendidly 
caparisoned. Christian slaves in Morocco were invariably the property of the 
emperor, and were mostly employed in constructing buildings of tapia a 
composition somewhat resembling our concrete. In the latter part of the 
seventeenth century, during the reign of Muley ishmael, a cruel tyrant to his 
own subjects, and who had a mania for building, the captives in Morocco were 
ill-treated, and compelled to work huvd. Yet even then, one Thomas Plielps, 
who made his escape from Mequinez, tells us that the emperor came frequently 
amongst the slaves when at work, and would " bolt out encouraging words to 
them, such as: ' May God send you all safe home to your own countries! "' 
and any captive was excused from work by the payment of a blanquil a sum 
equivalent to four cents per day. In 1G85, the emperor had 800 Christian 
slaves, 260 of whom were English ; many of those, however, were subsequently 


ransomed. After Muley Ishmael's death, the captives were much better 
treated. Captain Braithwaite, who accompanied Mr. Russell on a mission 
from the English government in 1727, thus describes the condition of the 
Christian captives in Morocco : "Most part of them," he says, "have expecta 
tions of getting back to their native country at one time or another. The 
emperor keeps most of them at work upon his buildings, but not to such hard 
labor that our laborers go through. The Canute, where they are lodged, is 
infinitely better than our prisons. In short, the captives have a much greater 
property in what they get than the Moors ; several of them being rich, and 
many have carried considerable sums out of the country. Several keep their 
mules, and some their servants, to the truth of which we are all witnesses." 
Morocco was the first of the Barbary states that gave up the practice of Chris 
tian slavery. In a treaty made with Spain in 1799, the emperor declared his 
desire that the name of slavery might be effaced from the memory of man 



Negroland, or Nigritia, described. Slavery among the Natives. Mungo Park's estimate 
of the number of Slaves. The Portuguese navigators explore the African coast. Na 
tives first carried off in 1434. Portuguese establish the Slave Trade on the Western 
Coast followed by the Spaniards. America discovered colonized by the Spaniards, 
who reduce the Natives to Slavery they die by thousands in consequence. The Do 
minican priests intercede for them. Negroes from Africa substituted as Slaves, 1510. 
Cardinal Ximenes remonstrates. Charles V. encourages the trade. Insurrection of 
the Slaves at Segovia. Other nations colonize America. First recognition of the Slave 
Trade by the English government in 1562, reign of Elizabeth. First Negroes imported 
into Virginia in a Dutch vessel in 1(520. The French and other commercial nations en 
gage in the traffic. The great demand for Slaves on the African coast. Negroes fight 
ing and kidnapping each othr-r. Slave factories established by the English, French, 
Dutch. Spanish, and Portuguese. Slave factory described. How Slaves were procured 
in the interior. 


EGROLAND, or Nigritia, is that part of the interior of Africa stretching 
from the great desert on the north to the unascertained commencement of Caf- 
freland on the south, and from the Atlantic on the west to Abyssinia on the 
east. In fact, the entire interior of this great continent may be called the land 
of the negroes. The ancients distinguished it from the comparatively civilized 
countries lying along the coast of the Mediterranean and the Red Sea by call 
ing the latter Libya, and the former Ethiopia. It is upon Ethiopia in an es 
pecial manner that the curse of slavery has fallen. At first, it bore but a share 
of the burden ; Britons and Scythians were the fellow-slaves of the Ethiopian : 
but at last all the other nations of the earth seemed to conspire against the ne- 

* Chambers' Miscellany. 


gro race, agreeing never to enslave each other, but to make the blacks the slaves 
of all alike. Thus, this race of human beings has been singled out, whether 
owing to the accident of color, or to their peculiar fitness for certain kinds of 
labor, for infamy and misfortune ; and the abolition of the practice of promis 
cuous slavery in the modern world, was purchased by the introduction of a slav 
ery confined entirely to negroes. 

The nations and tribes of negroes in Africa, who thus ultimately became the 
universal prey of Europeans, were themselves equally guilty in subjecting men 
to perpetual bondage. In the most remote times, every Ethiopian man of 
consequence had his slaves, just as a Greek or Roman master had. Savage as 
he was, he at least resembled the citizen of a civilized state in this. He pos 
sessed his domestic slaves, or bondmen, hereditary on his property ; and be 
sides these, he was always acquiring slaves by whatever means he could, whether 
by purchase from slave-dealers, or by war with neighboring tribes. The slaves 
of a negro master in this case would be his own countrymen, or at least men 
of his own race and color ; some of them born on the same spot with himself, 
some of them captives who had been brought from a distance of a thousand 
miles. Of course, the farther a captive was taken from his home, the more 
valuable he would be, as having less chance of escape ; and therefore it would 
be a more common practice to sell a slave taken in war with a neighboring 
tribe, than to retain him as a laborer so near his home. And just as in the 
cities of the civilized countries, we find the slave population often outnumber 
ing the free, so in the villages of the interior of Africa the negro slaves were 
often more numerous than the negro masters. Park, in his travels among the 
negroes, found that in many villages the slaves were three times as numerous 
as the free persons ; and it is likely that the proportion was not very different 
in more ancient times. In ancient times, the Garamantes used to sell negroes 
to the Libyans ; ^id so a great proportion of the slaves of the Carthaginians 
and the Egyptians must have been blacks brought northwards across the des 
ert. From Carthage and Egypt, again, these negroes would be exported into 
different countries of southern Europe ; and a stray negro might even find his 
way into the more northern regions. They seem always to have been valued 
for their patience, their mild temper, and their extraordinary power of endur 
ance ; and for many purposes negro slaves would be preferred by their Roman 
masters to all others, even to the shaggy, scowling Picts. But though it is 
quite certain that negroes were used as slaves in ancient Europe, still the negro 
never came to enjoy that miserable preeminence which later times have assigned 
to him, treating him as the born drudge of the human family. White-skinned 
men were slaves as well as he ; and if, among the Carthaginians and Egyptians, 
negro slaves were more common than any other, it was only because they were 
more easily procurable. 

The Portuguese were the first to set the example of stealing negroes; they 
were the first to become acquainted with Africa. Till the fifteenth century, 
no part of Africa was known except the chain of countries on the coast of the 
Mediterranean and the Red Sea, beginning with Morocco, and ending with 


Abyssinia and the adjoining desert. The Arabs and Moors, indeed, traversing 
the latter, knew something about Ethiopia, or the land of the negroes, but 
what knowledge they had was confined to themselves; and to the Europeans the 
whole of the continent to the south of the desert was an unknown and unex 
plored land. There were traditions of two ancient circumnavigations of the 
continent by the Phoenicians and the Carthaginians, one down the Red Sea, 
and round the Cape of Good Hope from the east, the other through the Straits 
of Gibraltar, and round the same cape from the west ; but these traditions were 
vague and questionable. They were sufficient, however, to set the brains of 
modern navigators a-working ; and now that they were possessed of the mari 
ner's compass, they might hope to repeat the Carthaginian feat of circumnavi 
gating Africa; if, indeed, Africa were circumnavigable. In the year 1412, 
therefore, a series of attempts was begun by the Portuguese, at the instigation 
of Prince Henry, to sail southward along the western coast. In every suc 
ceeding attempt, the bold navigators got farther and farther south, past the 
Canaries, past the Cape Verds, along the coast of Guinea, through the Bight 
of Biafra, down that long unnamed extent of coast south of the equator, until 
at last the perseverance of three generations succeeded, and the brave Yasco 
dc Garaa, in 1497, rounded the great cape itself, turned his prow northward, 
sailed through the Mozambique Channel, and then, as if protesting that he had 
done with Africa all that navigator could, steered through the open ocean right 
for the shores of India. The third or fourth of these attempts brought the 
Portuguese into contact with the negroes. Before the year 1470, the whole 
of the Guinea coast had been explored. As early as 1434, Antonio Gonzales, 
a Portuguese captain, landed on this coast, and carried away with him some 
negro boys, whom he sold to one or two Moorish families in the south of Spain. 
The act seems to have provoked some criticism at the time. But from that 
day, it became customary for the captains of vessels landingwn the Gold Coast, 
or other parts of the coast of Guinea, to carry away a few young negroes of 
both sexes. The labor of these negroes, whether on board the ships which 
carried them away, or in the ports to which the ships belonged, being found 
valuable, the practice soon grew into a traffic ; and negroes, instead of being 
carried away in twos and threes as curiosities, came to form a part of the 
cargo, as well as gold, ivory, and gum. The ships no longer went on voyages 
of discovery, they went for profitable cargoes ; and the inhabitants of the 
negro villages along the coast, delighted with the beads, and knives, and bright 
cloths which they got in exchange for gold, ivory, and slaves, took care to 
have these articles ready for any ship that might land. Thus the slave-trade, 
properly so called, began. The Spaniards were the first nation to become 
parties with the Portuguese in this infamous traffic. 

At first, the deportation of slaves from Africa was conducted on a limited 
scale ; but about seventy years after Gonzales had carried away the first negro 
boys from the Guinea coast, an opening was all at once made for negro labor, 
which made it necessary to carry away blacks, not by occasional ship-loads, but 
by thousands annually. 


America was discovered in 1492. The part of this new world which was 
first colonized by the Spaniards, consisted of those islands scattered through 
the great gap of ocean between North and South America ; which, as they 
were thought to be the outermost individuals of the great Eastern Indies, to 
which it was the main object of Columbus to effect a ^western passage, were 
called the West Indies. When the Spaniards took possession of these islands, 
they employed the natives, or Indians, as they were called, to do all the heavy 
kinds of labor for them, such as carrying burdens, digging for gold, &c. In 
fact, these Indians became slaves of their Spanish conquerors ; and it was cus 
tomary, in assigning lands to a person, to give him, at the same time, all the 
Indians upon them. Thus, when Bernal Diaz paid his respects to Yelasquez, 
the governor of Cuba, the governor promised him the first Indians he had at 
his disposal. According to all accounts, never was there a race of men more 
averse to labor, or constitutionally more unfit for it, than these native Ameri 
cans. They are described as the most listless, improvident people on the face 
of the earth, and though capable of much passive endurance, drooped and lost 
all heart whenever they were put to active labor. Labor, ill-usage, and the 
small-pox together, carried them off in thousands, and wherever a Spaniard 
trod, he cleared a space before him, as if he carried a blasting influence in his 
person. When Albuquerque entered on his office as governor of St. Domingo 
in 1515, he found that, whereas in 1508 the natives numbered 60,000, they did 
not then number 14,000. The condition of these poor aborigines under the 
Spanish colonists became so heart-breaking, that the Dominican priests stepped 
out in their behalf, asserting them to be free men, and denying the right of the 
Spaniards to make them slaves. This led to a vehement controversy, which 
lasted several years, and in which Bartholomew de Las Casas, a benevolent 
priest, figured most conspicuously as the friend of the Indians. So energetic 
and persevering \fas he, that he produced a great impression in their favor 
upon the Spanish government at home. 

Unfortunately, the relaxation in favor of one race of men was procured at 
the expense of the slavery of another. Whether La Casas himself was led, 
by his extreme interest in the Indians, to be so inconsistent as to propose the 
employment of negroes in their stead, or whether the suggestion came from 
some other person, does not distinctly appear ; but it is certain, that what the 
Spaniards spared the Indians, they inflicted with double rigor upon the negroes. 
Laborers must be had, and the negroes were the kind of laborers that would 
suit. As early as 1503, a few negroes had been carried across the Atlantic ; 
and it was found that not only could each of these negroes do as much work 
as four Indians, but that, while the Indians were fast becoming extinct, the 
egroes were thriving and propagating wonderfully. The plain inference was, 
that they should import negroes as fast as possible ; and this was accordingly 
done. "In the year 1510," says the old Spanish historian Herrera, "the king 
of Spain ordered fifty slaves to be sent to Hispaniola to work in the gold 
mines, the natives being looked upon as a weak people, and unfit for labor " 
And this was but a beginning ; for, notwithstanding the remonstrances of Car- 

: ,v- 


dinal Ximenes, ship-load after ship-load of negroes was carried to the West 
Indies. We find Charles Y. giving one of his Flemish favorites an exclusive 
right of shipping 4000 negroes to the new world a monoply which that 
favorite sold to some Genoese merchants for 25,000 ducats. These merchants 
organized the traffic; many more. than 4000 negroes were required to do the 
work ; and though at first the negroes were exorbitantly dear, they multiplied 
so fast, and were imported in such quantities, that at last there was a negro 
for every Spaniard in the colonies ; and in whatever new direction the Span 
iards advanced in their career of conquest, negroes went along with them. 

The following extract from the Spanish historian already quoted will show 
not only that the negroes were very numerous, but that sometimes also they 
proved refractory, and endeavored to get the upper hand of their masters : 
" There was so great a number of blacks in the governments of Santa Marta 
and Venezuela, and so little precaution was used in the management of them, 
or rather the liberty they had was so great, being allowed the use of arms, 
which they much delight in, that, prompted by their natural fierceness and 
arrogance, a small number of the most polished, who valued themselves for 
their valor and gayety, resolved to rescue themselves from servitude, and be 
come their own masters, believing that they might live at their own will among 
the Indians. Those few summoning others, who, like a thoughtless brutish 
people, were not capable of making any reflection, but were always ready at 
the beck of those of their own color for whom they had any respect or es 
teem, they readily complied. Assembling to the number of about 250, and 
repairing to the settlement of New Segovia, they divided themselves into com 
panies, and appointed captains, and saluted one king, who had the most bold 
ness and resolution to assume that title ; and he, intimating that they should 
all be rich, and lords of the country, by destroying the Spaniards, assigned 
erery one the Spanish woman that should fall to his lot, with other such inso 
lent projects and machinations. The fame of this commotion was soon spread 
abroad throughout all the cities of those two governments, where preparations 
were speedily made for marching against the blacks, as well to prevent their 
being joined by the rest of their countrymen that were not yet gone to them, 
as to obviate the many mischiefs which those barbarians might occasion to the 
country. In the meantime, the inhabitants of Tucuyo sent succors to the city 
of Segovia, which was but newly founded ; and the very night that relief ar 
rived there, the blacks, who had got intelligence of it, resolved to be before 
hand with the Spaniards ; and in order that, greater forces thus coming in, 
they might not grow too strong for them, they fell upon those Spaniards, kill 
ing five or six of them, and a clergyman. However, the success did not 
answer their expectation, for the Spaniards being on their guard, readily took 
the alarm, fought the blacks courageously, and killed a considerable number. 
The rest, perceiving that their contrivance had miscarried, retired. The next 
morning Captain James de Lassado arrived there with forty men from the gov 
ernment of Venezuela, and, judging that no time ought to be lost in that 
affair, marched against the blacks with the men he had brought, and those 




who were before at New Segovia. Perceiving that they had quitted the post 
they had first taken, and were retired to a strong place on the mountain, he 
pursued, overtook, and attacked them ; and though they drew up and stood on 
their defense, he soon routed and put them all to the sword, sparing none but 
their women and some female Indians they had with them, after which he re 
turned to Segovia, and those provinces were delivered from much uneasiness." 

The Spaniards did not long remain alone in the guilt of this new traffic. 
At first the Spaniards had all America to themselves ; and as it was in 
America that negro labor was in demand, the Spaniards alone possessed large 
numbers of negroes. But other nations come to have colonies in America, 
and as negroes were found invaluable in the foundation of a new colony, other 
nations came also to patronize the slave trade. The first recognition of the 
trade by the English government was in 1562, in the reign of Elizabeth, when 
an act was passed legalizing the purchase of negroes ; yet, as the earlier 
attempts made by the English to plant colonies in North America were unsuc 
cessful, there did not, for some time after the passing of this act, exist any 
demand for negroes sufficient to induce the owners of English trading vessels 
visiting the coast of Africa to make negroes a part of their cargo. It was in 
the year 1620 that the first negroes were imported into Virginia; and even 
then it was not an English slave-ship which supplied them, but a Dutch one, 
which chanced to touch on the coast with some negroes on board bound for the 
Spanish colonies. These negroes the Virginian planters purchased on trial ; 
and the bargain was found to be so good, that in a short time negroes came to 
be in great demand in Virginia. Nor were the planters any longer indebted 
to the chance visits of Dutch ships for a supply of negro-laborers ; for the 
English merchants, vigilant and calculating then as they are now, immediately 
embarked in the traffic, and instructed the captains of their vessels visiting the 
African coast to barter for negroes as well as wax and elephants' teeth. In a 
similar way the French, the Dutch, and all other nations of any commercial 
importance, came to be involved in the traffic ; those who had colonies, to 
supply the demand there ; those who had no colonies, to make money by 
assisting to supply the demand of the colonies of other countries. Before the 
middle of the seventeenth century, the African slave-trade was in full vigor ; 
and all Europe was implicated in the buying and selling of negroes. 

So universal is the instinct for barter, that the immediate effect of the new 
and great demand for slaves was to create its own supply. Slavery, as we 
have said, existed in Negroland from time immemorial, but on a comparatively 
limited scale. The effect of the demand by the European ships gave an 
unhappy stimulus to the natural animosities of the various negro tribes skirt 
ing the west coast ; and, tempted by the clasp-knives, and looking-glasses, and 
wonderful red cloth, which the white men always brought with them to ex 
change for slaves, the whole negro population for many miles inland began 
fighting and kidnapping each other. Not only so, but the interior of the con 
tinent itself, the district of Lake Tchad, and the mystic source of the fatal Ni 
ger, hitherto untrodden by the foot of a white invader, began to feel the tremor 


zaused by the traffic on the coast ; and ere long, the very negroes who seemed 
safest in their central obscurities, were drained away to meet the increasing de 
mand ; either led captive by warlike visitants from the west, or handed from 
tribe to tribe till they reached the sea. In this way, eventually, Central Africa, 
with its teeming myriads of negroes, came to be the great mother of slaves for 
exportation, and the negro villages on the coast the warehouses, as it were, 
where the slaves were stowed away till the ships of the white men arrived to 
carry them off. 

European skill and foresight assisted in giving constancy and regularity to 
the supply of negroes from the interior. At first the slave vessels only visited 
the Guinea coast, and bargained with the negroes of the villages there for what 
quantity of wax, or gold, or negroes they had to give. But this was a clumsy 
way of conducting business. The ships had to sail along a large tract of coast, 
picking up a few negroes at one place, and a little ivory or gold at another ; 
sometimes even the natives of a village might have no elephants' teeth and no 
negroes to give ; and even under the most favorable circumstances, it took a 
considerable time to procure a decent cargo. No coast is so pestilential as that 
of Africa, and hence the service was very repulsive and very dangerous. As 
an improvement on this method of trading, the plan was adopted very early of 
planting small settlements of Europeans at intervals along the slave-coast, 
whose business it should be to negotiate with the negroes, stimulate them to 
activity in their slave-hunting expeditions, purchase the slaves brought in, and 
warehouse them until the arrival of the ships. These settlements were called 
slave factories. Factories of this kind were planted all along the western coast 
from Cape Yerd to the equator, by English, French, Dutch, and Portuguese 
traders. Their appearance, the character of the men employed in them, their 
internal arrangements, and their mode of carrying on the traffic, are well de 
scribed in the following extract from Mr. Howison's book on " European 
Colonies" : 

" As soon as the parties concerned had fixed upon the site of their proposed 
commercial establishment, they began to erect a fort of greater or less magni 
tude, having previously obtained permission to that effect from the natives. 
The most convenient situation for a building of the kind was considered to be 
at the confluence of a river with the sea, or upon an island lying within a few 
miles of the coast. In the first case, there was the advantage of inland navi 
gation ; and in the second, that of the security and defensibleness of an insular 
position, besides its being more cool and healthy than any other. 

The walls of the fort enclosed a considerable space of ground, upon which 
were built the necessary magazines for the reception of merchandise, and also 
barracks for the soldiers and artificers, and a depot for slaves ; so that, in thu 
event of external hostilities, the gates might be shut, and the persons and the 
property belonging to the establishment placed in security. The quarters foi 
the officers and agents employed at the factory were in general erected upon 
the ramparts, or at least adjoining them ; while the negroes in their service, 
and any others that might be attracted to the spot, placed their huts outside of 
the walls of the fort, but under the protection of its guns. 


The command of the establishment was vested in the hands of one individ 
ual, who had various subordinates, according to the extent of the trade carried 
on at the place ; and if the troops who garrisoned the fort exceeded twenty or 
thirty, a commissioned officer usually had charge of them. The most remark 
able forts were St. George del Mina, erected by the Portuguese, though it sub 
sequently fell into the hands of the Dutch ; Cape Coast Castle, the principal 
establishment of the English ; Fort Louis, at the mouth of the Senegal, gen 
erally occupied by the French ; and Goree, situated upon an island of the same 
name, near Cape Verd. Most of these forts mounted from fifty to sixty pieces 
of cannon, and contained large reservoirs for water, and were not only impreg 
nable to the negroes, but capable of standing a regular siege by a European 

The individuals next in importance to the director or governor were the fac 
tors, who ranked according to their standing in the company's service. The 
seniors generally remained at headquarters, and had the immediate manage 
ment of the trade there, and the care of the supplies of European merchan 
dise which were always kept in store. The junior factors were employed in 
carrying on the traffic in the interior of the country, which they did sometimes 
by ascending the rivers in armed vessels, and exchanging various articles for 
slaves, gold-dust, and ivory, with the negroes inhabiting the neighborhood ; 
and sometimes by establishing themselves for several months in a large town of 
populous district, and, as it were, keeping a shop to which the natives might 
resort for traffic. 

The European subordinates of the establishment consisted of clerks, book 
keepers, warehousemen, artificers, mechanics, gunners, and private soldiers, all 
of whom had particular quarters assigned for their abode, and lived under mil 
itary discipline. The soldiers employed in the service of the different African 
companies were mostly invalids, and persons who had been dismissed from the 
army on account of bad conduct. Destitute of the means of subsistence at 
home, such men willingly engaged to go to the coast of Africa, where they 
knew they would be permitted to lead a life of ease, indolence, and licentious 
ness, and be exposed to no danger except that of a deadly climate, which was 
in reality the most certain and inevitable one that they could anywhere encoun 
ter. Few of the troops in any of the forts were fit for active duty, which was 
of the less consequence, because they were seldom or never required to fight 
except upon the ramparts of the place in which they might be quartered, and 
not often even there. Hence they spent their time in smoking, in drinking palm 
wine, and in gaming, and were generally carried off by fever or dissipation 
within two years after their arrival in the country. A stranger, on first visit 
ing any of the African forts, felt that there was something both horrible and 
ludicrous in the appearance of its garrison ; for the individuals composing it 
appeared ghastly, debilitated, and diseased, to a degree that is unknown in 
other climates ; and their tattered and soiled uniforms, resembling each other 
only in meanness, and not in color, suggested the idea of the wearers being a 
band of drunken deserters, or of starved and maltreated prisoners of war. 


Each company was in the practice of annually sending a certain number of 
ships to its respective establishments, freighted with European goods suitable 
for traffic ; while its factors in Africa had in the meantime been collecting slaves, 
ivory, gumarabic, and other productions of the country ; so that the vessels on 
their arrival suffered no detention, but always found a return cargo ready for 

Though the forts were principally employed as places of safe deposit for 
merchandise received from Europe or collected at outposts, they were also gen 
erally the scene of a considerable trade, being resorted to for that purpose not 
only by the coast negroes, but often also by dealers from the interior of the 
country, who would bring slaves, ivory, and gold-dust for traffic. Persons of 
this description were always honorably, and even ceremoniously received by the 
governor or by the factors, and conciliated in every possible way, lest they 
might carry their goods to another market. They were invited to enter the 
fort, and were treated with liquors, sweetmeats, and presents, and urged to 
drink freely ; and no sooner did they show symptoms of confusion of ideas, 
than the factors proposed to trade with them, and displayed the articles which 
they were disposed to give in exchange for their slaves, &c. The unsuspicious 
negro-merchant, dazzled by the variety of tempting objects placed before him, 
and exhilarated by wine or brandy, was easily led to conclude a bargain little 
advantageous to himself; and before he had fully recovered his senses, his slaves, 
ivory, and gold-dust were transferred to the stores of the factory, and he was 
obliged to be contented with what he had in his moments of inebriety agreed 
to accept in exchange for them." 

From this extract, it appears that not only did the managers of these facto 
ries receive all the negroes who might be brought down to the coast, but that 
emissaries, "junior factors," as they were called, penetrated into the interior, 
as if thoroughly to infect the central tribes with the spirit of commerce. The 
result of this was the creation of large slave-markets in the interior, where the 
negro slaves were collected for sale, and where slave-merchants, whether negro, 
Arabic, or European, met to conclude their wholesale bargains. One of these 
great slave-markets was at Timbuctoo ; but for the most part the slaves were 
brought down in droves by Slatees, or negro slave-merchants, to the European 
factories on the coast. At the time that Park traveled in Africa, so completely 
had the negroes of the interior become possessed with the trading spirit, so 
much had the capture and abduction of negroes grown into a profession, that 
these native slave-merchants were observed to treat the slaves they were dri 
ving to the coast with considerable kindness. The negroes were, indeed, 
chained together to prevent their escape. Those who were refractory had a 
thick billet of wood fastened to their ankle ; and as the poor wretches quitting 
their native spots became sullen and moody, their limbs at the same time 
swelling and breaking out in sores with the fatigue of traveling, it was often 
necessary to apply the whip. Still, the Slatees were not wantonly cruel ; and 
there was nothing they liked better than to see their slaves merry. Occasion 
ally they would halt in their march, and encourage the negroes to sing their 


snatches of song, or play their games of hazard, or dance under the shade of 
the tamarind tree. This, however, was only the case with the professional 
slave-driver, who was commissioned to convey the negroes to the coast ; and 
if we wish to form a conception of the extent and intricate working of the 
curse inflicted upon the negroes by their contact with white men, we must set 
ourselves to imagine all the previous kidnapping and fighting which must have 
been necessary to procure every one of these droves which the Slatees carried 
down. What a number of processes must have conspired to bring a sufficient 
number of slaves together to form a drove ! In one case, it would be a negro 
master selling a number of his spare slaves ; and what an amount of suffering 
even in this case must there have been arising from the separation of relatives 1 
In another case, it would be a father selling his son, or a son selling his old 
father, or a creditor selling his insolvent debtor. In a third, it would be a 
starving family voluntarily surrendering itself to slavery. When a scarcity 
occurred, instances used to be frequent of famishing negroes coming to the 
British stations in Africa and begging "to be put upon the slave-chain." In 
a fourth case it would be a savage selling the boy or girl he had kidnapped a 
week ago on purpose. In a fifth, it would be a petty negro chief disposing 
of twenty or thirty negroes taken alive in a recent attack upon a village at a 
little distance from his own. Sometimes these forays in quest of negroes to 
sell are on a very large scale, and then they are called slave-hunts. The king 
of one negro country collects a large army, and makes an expedition into the 
territories of another negro king, ravaging and making prisoners as he goes. 
If the inhabitants make a stand against him, a battle ensues, in which the 
invading army is generally victorious. As many are killed as may be necessary 
to decide that such is the case ; and the captives are driven away in thousands, 
to be kept on the property of the victor till he finds opportunities of selling 
them. In 1194, the king of the southern Foulahs, a powerful tribe in Nigri- 
tia, was known to have an army of 16,000 men constantly employed in these 
slave-hunting expeditions into his neighbors' territories. The slaves they pro 
cured made the largest item in his revenue. 



The Mohammedan slave-trade. Nubian slaves captured for the slave markets of the 
Levant. Mohammed Ali. Grand expeditions for hunting. Annual tribute of slaves. 
The encampment. Attack upon the villages. Courage of the natives. Their heroio 
resistance. Cruelty of the victors. Destruction of villages. The captives sold into 

HILE Central and Eastern Africa were ravaged for slaves to supply the 
American market, Nubia and other districts were equally laid under contribu- 


tion to supply the slave markets of the Levant, of Egypt, Turkey and the 
East. The one may be called the Christian, the other the Mohammedan Slave 
Trade. The main difference between the two trades was, that while the 
Europeans generally bought slaves after they had been captured, the less fas 
tidious Turks captured slaves for themselves. We have been accustomed to 
interest ourselves so much in the western or Christian slave-trade, that we have 
paid but little attention to the other. While the one trade has been legally 
abolished, the other is carried on as vigorously as ever. A traffic in negroes 
is at present going on between Negroland and the whole of the East. While 
it has been declared illegal to carry away a negro from the coast of Guinea, 
negroes are bought and sold daily in the public slave markets of Cairo and 

When Dr. Madden, of England, went to Egypt in 1840, as the bearer of a 
letter from the Anti-Slavery Convention to Mohammed Ali, the ruler of Egypt, 
congratulating him upon his having issued an order abolishing the slave hunts, 
to his great surprise, he found that the order, though issued, had never been 
enforced, and probably never would be. The truth is, that Mohammed himself 
had brought the system of hunting slaves to a high degree of perfection. 
Nubia was his principal hunting ground, into which he permitted no intruder. 
His own expeditions were conducted on a grand scale ; and generally took 
place after the rainy season. From Dr. Madden's work, we extract a descrip 
tion of these slave hunts : " The capturing expedition consists of from 1000 
to 2000 regular foot soldiers ; from 400 to 800 mounted Bedouins, armed with 
guns and pistols ; from 300 to 500 militia, half-naked savages on dromedaries, 
armed with spears, and 1000 more on foot, armed with small lances. As soon 
as everything is ready, the march begins. They usually take from two to four 
field-pieces, and only sufficient bread for the first eight days. They take 
by force on the route such oxen, sheep, and other cattle as they may need, 
making no reparation and listening to no complaints, as the governor himself 
is present. 

As soon as they arrive at the nearest mountains in Nubia, the inhabitants 
are asked to give the appointed number of slaves as their customary tribute. 
This is usually done with readiness, as they are well aware that by an obstinate 
refusal, they expose themselves to far greater sufferings. If the slaves are 
given without resistance, the inhabitants of that mountain are preserved from 
the horrors of an open attack ; but as the food of the soldiers begins to fail 
about that time, the poor people are obliged to procure the necessary provis 
ions as well as the specified number of slaves, and the Turks do not consider 
whether the harvest has been good or bad. All that is not freely given, the 
soldiers take by force. Like so many bloodhounds, they know how to discover 
the hidden stores, and frequently leave these unfortunate people scarcely a loaf 
for the next day. They then proceed on to the more distant mountains : here 
they consider themselves to be in the land of an enemy ; they encamp near the 
mountain which they intend to take by storm the following day, or immediately. 
if it is practicable. But before the attack commences, they endeavor to settle 


the affair amicably : a messenger is sent to the sheik, in order to invite him to 
come to the camp, and to bring with him the requisite number of slaves. If 
the chief agrees with his subjects to the proposal, in order to prevent all fur 
ther bloodshed, or if he finds his means inadequate to attempt resistance, he 
readily gives the appointed number of slaves. The sheik then -proceeds to 
procure the number he has promised ; and this is not difficult, for many volun 
teers offer themselves for their brethren, and are ready to subject themselves 
to all the horrors of slavery, in order to free those they love. Sometimes they 
are obliged to be torn by force from the embraces of their friends and relations. 
The sheik generally receives a dress as a present for his ready services. 

But there are very few mountains that submit to such a demand. Most 
villages which are advantageously situated, and lie near steep precipices or in 
accessible heights, that can be ascended only with difficulty, defend themselves 
most valiantly, and fight for the rights of liberty with a courage, perseverance, 
and sacrifice, of which history furnishes us with few examples. Very few flee 
at the approach of their enemies, although they might take refuge in the high 
mountains with all their goods, especially as they receive timely information of 
the arrival of the soldiers ; but they consider such flights cowardly and shame 
ful, and prefer to die fighting for their liberty. 

If the sheik does not yield to the demand, an attack is made upon the vil 
lage. The cavalry and bearers of lances surround the whole mountain, and 
the infantry endeavor to climb the heights. Formerly, they fired with cannon 
upon the villages and those places where the negroes were assembled, but, on 
account of the want of skill of the artillerymen, few shots, if any, took effect ; 
the negroes became indifferent to this prelude, and were only stimulated to a 
more obstinate resistance. The thundering of the cannon at first caused more 
consternation than their effects, but the fears of the negroes ceased as soon as 
they became accustomed to it. Before the attack commences, all avenues to 
the village are blocked up with large stones or other impediments, the village 
is provided with water for several days, the cattle and other property taken up 
to the mountains ; in short, nothing necessary for a proper defense is neglected. 
The men, armed only with lances, occupy every spot which may be defended ; 
and even the women do not remain inactive ; they either take part in the bat 
tle personally, or encourage their husbands by their cries and lamentations, and 
provide them with arms ; in short, all are active, except the sick and aged. 
The points of their wooden lances are first dipped into a poison which is stand- 
ng by them in an earthen vessel, and which is prepared from the juice of a 
certain plant. The poison is of a whitish color, and looks like milk which has 
been standing ; the nature of the plant, and the manner in which the pciscn is 
prepared, is still a secret, and generally known only to one family in the vil 
lage, who will not on any account make it known to others. 

The signal for attack being given, the infantry sound the alarm, and an as 
sault is made upon the mountain. Hundreds of lances, large stones, and pieces 
of wood, are then thrown at the assailants ; behind every large stone a negro 
is concealed, who either throws his poisoned lance at the enemy, or waits for 


ohe moment when his opponent approaches the spot of his concealment, when 
he pierces him with his lance. The soldiers, who are only able to climb up the 
steep heights with great difficulty, are obliged to sling their guns over their 
backs, in order to have the use of their hands when climbing, and, conse 
quently, are often in the power of the negroes before they are able to discover 
them. But nothing deters these robbers. Animated with avarice and revenge, 
they mind no impediment, not even death itself. One after another treads 
upon the corpse of his comrade, and thinks only of robbery and murder ; and 
the village is at last taken, in spite of the most desperate resistance. And 
then the revenge is horrible. Neither the aged nor the sick are spared ; 
women, and even children in the womb, fall a sacrifice to their fury ; the huts 
are plundered, the little possessions of the unfortunate inhabitants carried 
away or destroyed, and all that fall alive into the hands of the robbers are led 
as slaves into the camp. When the negroes see that their resistance is no 
longer of any avail, they frequently prefer death to slavery ; and if they are 
not prevented, you may see the father rip up first the stomach of his wife, 
then of his children, and then his own, that they may not fall alive into the 
hands of the enemy. Others endeavor to save themselves by creeping into 
holes, and remain there for several days without nourishment, where there is 
frequently only room sufficient to allow them to lie on their backs, and in that 
situation they sometimes remain for eight days. They have assured me, that 
if they can overcome the first three days, they may, with a little eifort, con 
tinue full eight days without food. But even from these hiding-places the 
unfeeling barbarians know how to draw them, or they make use of means to 
destroy them : provided with combustibles, such as pitch, brimstone, &c., the 
soldiers try to kindle a fire before the entrance of the holes, and, by forcing 
the stinking smoke into them, the poor creatures are obliged to creep out and 
surrender themselves to their enemies, or they are suffocated with the smoke. 

After the Turks have done all in their power to capture the living, they lead 
these unfortunate people into the camp ; they then plunder the huts and the 
cattle ; and several hundred soldiers are engaged in searching the mountain in 
every direction, in order to steal the hidden harvest, that the rest of the ne 
groes, who were fortunate enough to escape, and have hid themselves in inac 
cessible caves, should not find anything on their return to nourish and continue 
their life. 

When slaves to the number of 500 or 600 are obtained, they are sent to 
Lobeid, with an escort of country people, and about fifty soldiers, under the 
command of an officer. In order to prevent escape, a sheba is hung round 
the necks of the adults. A sheba is a young tree, about eight feet long, and 
two inches thick, and which has a fork at the top ; it is so tied to the neck of 
the poor creature, that the trunk of the tree hangs down in the front, and the 
fork is closed behind the neck with a cross-piece of timber, or tied together 
with strips cut out of a fresh skin ; and in this situation the slave, in order to 
walk at all, is obliged to take the tree into his hands, and to carry it before 
him. But none can endure this very long ; and to render it easier, the one in 


advance takes the tree of the man behind him on his shoulder." In this way, 
the men carrying the sheba, the boys tied together by the wrists, the women 
and children walking at their liberty, and the old and feeble tottering along 
leaning on their relations, the whole of the captives are driven into Egypt, 
there to be exposed for sale in the slave-market. Thus negroes and Nubians 
are distributed over the East, through Persia, Arabia, India, &c.* 



England first engages in the Slave Trade in 1562 Sir John Hawkins' voyages. British 
first established a regular trade in 1618. Second charter granted in 1631. Third 
charter in 1662. Capture of the Dutch Forts. Retaken by De Ruyter. Fourth 
charter in 1 672 ; the King and Duke of York shareholders. Monopoly abolished, and 
free trade in Slaves declared. Flourishing condition of the Trade. Numbers annual 
ly exported. Public sentiment aroused against the Slave Trade in England. Parlia 
ment resolve to hear Evidence upon the subject. Abstract of the Evidence taken 
before a Select Committee of the House of Commons in 1790 and 1791 Revealing the 
Enormities committed by the Natives on the persons of one another to procure Slaves 
for the Europeans. War and Kidnapping imputed Crimes. Villages attacked and 
burned, and inhabitants seized and sold. African chiefs excited by intoxication to 
sell their subjects. 


IR John Hawkins was the first Englishman who transported slaves from 
Africa to America. This was in 1562. His adventures are recorded by 
Hakluyt, a cotemporary historian. He sailed from England in October, 1562, 
for Sierra Leone, and in a short time obtained possession of 300 negroes, 
" partly by the sword and partly by other means. " He proceeded directly to 
Hispaniola, and exchanged his cargo for hides, ginger, sugar, &c., and arrived 
in England, after an absence of eleven months. The voyage was "very pros 
perous, and brought great profit to the adventurers." 

This success excited the avarice of his countrymen ; and the next year, 
Hawkins sailed for Guinea with three ships. The history of this voyage is 
related at large in Hakluyt's collections, by a person who sailed with Hawkins. 
They landed at a small island on the coast to see if they could take any of the 
inhabitants. Eighty men, with arms and ammunition, started on the hunt ; 
but the natives flying into the woods, they returned without success. A short 
time after, they proceeded to another island, called Sambula. "In this 
island," says the narrator, " we staid certain days, going every day on shore to 
take the inhabitants, with burning and spoiling their towns." Hawkins made 
a third voyage in 1568, with six ships, which, it seems, "terminated most 
miserably," and put a stop for some years to the traffic. 

* Dr. Madden's Egypt and Mohammed Ali. 


The first attempt by the British to establish a regular trade on the African 
coast, was made in the year 1618, when James I. granted an exclusive charter 
to Sir Robert Rich, and some other merchants of London, for raising a joint 
stock company to trade to Guinea. The profits not being found to answer 
their expectations, the charter was suffered to expire. 

In 1631, Charles I. granted a second charter to Richard Young, Sir Ken- 
elm Digby, and sundry merchants, to enjoy the exclusive trade to the coast 
of Guinea, between Cape Blanco and the Cape of Good Hope, for a period 
of thirty-one years. As the English had by this time began the settlement 
of plantations in the West Indies, negroes were in general demand ; and the 
company erected on the African coast, forts and warehouses, to protect their 
commerce. Private adventurers and interlopers of all nations broke in upon 
them, and forced the trade open, and so it continued until after the restora 
tion of Charles II. 

In 1662, a third exclusive company was incorporated, consisting of many 
persons of high rank and distinction, at the head of whom was the king's 
brother, the Duke of York. This company undertook to supply the English 
plantations with 3000 negroes, annually. In 1664, all the Dutch forts on the 
African coast but two were captured by the English ; but in the following 
year they were retaken by the Dutch Admiral, De Ruyter, who also seized 
one of the forts belonging to the English company. In 1672, the company 
surrendered their charter. 

The same year, 1672, the fourth and last exclusive company was established. 
It was dignified by the title of the Royal African Company, and had among 
the stockholders, the king, the duke of York, and many other persons of high 
rank. The capital was 111,000, and was raised in nine months. They paid 
35,000 for the forts of the old company. Besides the traffic in slaves, they 
imported into England great quantities of gold. In "1673, 50,000 guineas, 
(named from the country), were coined. They also imported redwood, ivory, 
wax, fec., and exported to the value of 70,000, annually, in English goods. 

The revolution of 1688 upset the exclusive privileges of this company. By 
the 1st William and Mary, the African, and all other exclusive companies not 
authorized by parliament were abolished. The company, however, continued 
its operations. 

The trade to Africa, by the statute, was virtually free, but it was expressly 
made so in 1698, under certain conditions. A duty of ten per cent, ad valo 
rem, was laid upon the goods exported from England to carry on the trade, to 
be paid to the collector at the time of clearance. This duty went to the com 
pany. A further duty of ten per cent, ad valorem, was laid upon all goods 
and merchandise imported into England and the colonies, from Africa. This 
duty was applied to the maintenance of the forts and castles. No duty was 
to be laid upon negroes, nor upon gold or silver. 

Against the provisions of this law, both the company and private traders 
remonstrated, but without effect. In the course of a few years, the affairs of 
the company were found in bad condition ; and Parliament in 1739, granted 


them 10,000, and the like sum annually until 1744, when the grant was 
doubled for that year. In 1747, no grant was made. 

In 1750, the "act for extending and improving the African trade" was 
passed, and continued in force until the close of the century. 

In 1790, the whole number of forts and factories established on the coast, 
was about forty ; fourteen belonged to the English, fifteen to the Dutch, three 
to the French, four to the Portuguese, and four to the Danes. The value of 
English goods annually exported to Africa about that time, was estimated at 
800,000 sterling. 

It is impossible to arrive at any exact conclusion as to the number of negroes 
annually carried off by the traders of various nations about this time, but there 
is reason to believe that it did not fall far short of 100,000. It has been 
estimated, that up to the close of the last century, Africa must have been de 
frauded of a population of 30,000,000. The principal slave importing places 
were the West India Islands, the British Colonies of North America, Brazil, 
and other settlements in South America. 

Very early after the commencement of the slave trade, the Africans began to 
be considered as an inferior race, and even their very color as a mark of it. 
Under this notion they continued to be transported for centuries, until various 
persons, taking an interest in their sufferings, produced such a union of public 
sentiment in their favor in England, that parliament was induced to consider 
their case by hearing evidence upon it. It is this evidence which we now 
propose to lay before the reader, in all its sickening and horrible details. It 
was heard before a select committee of the House of Commons, in the years 
1790 and 1791, and we quote it as most reliable proof of the enormities of the 
African Slave Trade. It was given by persons, some of whom had been en 
gaged in the traffic, and had visited all the principal parts of Africa from the 
river Senegal to Angola, had been up and down the rivers, and had resided 
on shore. This testimony covers the period from 1750 to 1790. 


The trade for slaves, (says Mr. Kiernan), in the river Senegal, was chiefly 
with the Moors, on the northern banks, who got them very often by war, and 
not seldom by kidnapping ; that is, lying in wait near a village, where there 
was no open war, and siezing whom they could. He has oftfin heard of vil 
lages, and seen the remains of such, broken up by making the people slaves. 
That the Moors used to cross the Senegal to catch the negroes was spoken of 
at Fort Louis as notorious ; and he has seen instances of it where the persons 
so taken were ransomed. 

General Rooke says, tha,t kidnapping took place in the neighborhood of 
Goree. It was spoken of as a common practice. It was reckoned disgrace 
ful there, but he cannot speak of the opinion about it on the Continent. He 
remembers two or three instances of negroes being brought to Goree, who 
had been kidnapped, but could not discover by whom. At their own request 
he immediately sent them back. 


Mr. Dalrymple found that the great droves (Caffellas or Caravans) of slaves 
brought from inland, by way of Galam, to Senegal and Gambia, were prison 
ers of war. Those sold to vessels at Goree, and near it, were procured either 
by the grand pillage, the lesser pillage, or by robbery of individuals, or in con 
sequence of crimes. The grand pillage is executed by the king's soldiers, from 
three hundred to three thousand at a time, who attack and set fire to a village, 
and seize the inhabitants as they can. The smaller parties generally lie hi 
wait about the villages, and take off all they can surprise ; which is also done 
by individuals, who do not belong to the king, but are private robbers. 
These sell their prey on the- coast, where it is well known no questions as to 
the means of obtaining it are asked. 

As to kidnapping, it is so notorious about Goree, that he never heard any 
person deny it there. Two men while he was there offered a person, a 
messenger from Senegal to Rufisco, for sale, to the garrison, who even boasted 
how they had obtained him. Many also were brought to Goree while he was 
there, procured in the same manner. These depredations are also practiced 
by the Moors : he saw many slaves in Africa who told him they were taken 
by them ; particularly three, one of whom was a woman, who cried very much, 
and seemed to be in great distress ; the two others were more reconciled to 
their fate. 

Captain Wilson says, that slaves are either procured by intestine wars, or 
by kings breaking up villages, or crimes real or imputed, or kidnapping. Vil 
lages are broken up by the king's troops surrounding them in the night, and 
seizing such of the inhabitants as suit their purpose. This practice is most 
common when there is no war with another state. It is universally acknowl 
edged that free persons are sold for real or imputed crimes, for the benefit of 
their judges. Soon after his arrival at Goree, king Darnel sent a free man to 
him for sale, and was to haje the price himself. One of the king's guards 
being asked whether the man was guilty of the crime impnted to him, answered, 
that was of no consequence, or ever inquired into. Captain Wilson returned 
the man. 

Kidnapping was acknowledged by all he conversed with, to be generally 
prevalent. It is the first principle of the natives, the principle of self-preser 
vation, never to go unarmed, while a slave- vessel is on the coast, for fear of 
being stolen. When he has met them thus armed, and inquired of them, 
through his interpreter, the reason of it, they have pointed to a French slave- 
vessel then lying at Portudal, and said their fears arose from that quarter. 
As a positive instance, he says, a courier of Captain Lacy's, his predecessor, 
though a Moor, a free man, and one who spoke the French language fluently, 
was kidnapped as he was traveling on the continent with dispatches on his 
Britannic Majesty's account, and sold to a French vessel, from which he, Cap 
tain Wilson, after much trouble, actually got him back. 

When he presided in a court at Goree, a Maraboo swore, with an energy 
which evinced the truth of his evidence, that his brother, another Maraboo, 
had been kidnapped in the act of drinking, a moment known to be sacred by 


their religion, at the instigation of a former governor, who had taken a dislike 
to him. This was a matter notorious at Goree. 

Mr. Wadstrom knows slaves to be procured between Senegal and Gambia, 
either by the general pillage or by robbery by individuals, or by stratagem and 
deceit. The general pillage is executed by the king's troops on horseback, 
armed, who seize the unprepared. Mr. Wadstrom, during the week he was at 
Joal, accompanying one of those embassies which the French governor sends 
yearly with presents to the black kings, to keep up the slave trade, saw parties 
sent out for this purpose, by king Barbesin, almost every day. These parties 
went out generally in the evening, and were armed with bows and arrows, guns, 
pistols, sabres, and long lances. The king of Sallum practices the pillage also. 
Mr. Wadstrom saw twenty-seven slaves from Sallum, twenty-three of whom 
were women and children, thus taken. He was told also by merchants at Go 
ree, that king Darnel practices the pillage in like manner. 

Robbery was a general way of taking single slaves. He once saw a woman 
and a boy in the slave-hold at Goree ; the latter had been taken by stealth from 
his parents in the interior parts above Cape Rouge, and he declared that such 
robberies were very frequent in his country ; the former, at Rufisco, from her 
husband and children. He could state several instances of such robberies. He 
very often saw negroes thus taken brought to Goree. Ganna of Dacard was a 
noted man-stealer, and employed as such by the slave-merchants there. As in 
stances of stratagem employed to obtain slaves, he relates that a French merchant 
taking a fancy to a negro, who was on a visit to Dacard, persuaded the village, 
for a certain price, to seize him. He was accordingly taken from his wife, who 
wished to accompany him, but the Frenchman had not merchandise enough to 
buy both. Mr. Wadstrom saw this negro at Goree, the day he arrived from 
Dacard, chained, and lying on the ground, exceedingly distressed in his mind. 
The king of Sallum also prevailed on a woman to come into his kingdom, and 
sell him some millet. On her arrival, he seized and sold her to a French of 
ficer, with whom Mr. Wadstrom saw this woman every day while at Goree. 
Mr. Wadstrom was on the island of St. Louis, up the Senegal also, and on tho 
continent near the river, and says that all the slaves sold at Senegal, are brought 
down the river, except those taken by the robbery of the Moors in the neigh 
borhood, which is sometimes conducted by large parties, in what are called petty 

Captain Hills saw, while lying between Goree and the continent, the natives, 
in an evening, often go out in war dresses, as he found, to obtain slaves for king 
Darnel, to be sold. The reason was, that the king was then poor, not having 
received his usual dues from us. He never saw the parties that went out re 
turn with slaves, but has often seen slaves in their huts tied back to back. He 
remembers also that some robbers once brought him a man, bound, on board the 
Zephyr, to sell, but he, Captain Hills, would not buy him, but suffered him to 
escape. The natives on the continent opposite to Goree all go armed, he im 
agines for fear of being taken. 

When in the river Gambia, wanting servants on board his ship, he expressed 


a wish for some volunteers. A black pilot in the boat called two boys who 
were on shore, carrying baskets of shallots, and asked Captain Hills if they 
would do, in which case he would take them off, and bring them to him. This 
he declined. From the ease with which the pilot did it, he concludes this was 
customary. The black pilot said the merchantmen would not refuse such an 
offer. He apprehends these two boys were free people, from the pilot's mode 
of speaking, and from his winking, implying that it was an illicit thing. A 
boy, whom he bought from the merchants in the same river, had been carried 
in the night from his father's house, where a skirmish had happened, in which 
he believes he saw both his parents, but he well remembers that one was killed. 
The boy said many were killed, and some taken. 

Mr. Ellison spoke the Mandingo language, in consequence of which he has 
often conversed with slaves from the Gambia, to which river he made three 
voyages, and they universally informed him that they had been stolen and sold. 

The natives up the river Scaffus informed Mr. Bowman that they had got 
two women and a girl, whom they then brought him, in a small town which 
they had surprised in the night ; that others had got off, but they expected the 
rest of the party would bring them in, in two or three days. When these ar 
rived, they brought with them two men whom Mr. Bowman knew, and had 
traded with formerly ; upon questioning them, he discovered the women he 
had bought to be their wives. Both men and women informed him that the 
war-men had taken them while asleep. The war-men used to go out, Mr. Bow 
man says, once or twice in eight or ten days, while he was at Scaffus. It was 
their constant way of getting slaves, he believed, because they always came to 
the factory before setting out, and demanded powder, ball, gun-flints, and small 
shot ; also, rum, tobacco, and a few other articles. When supplied, they blew 
the horn, made the war-cry, and set off. If they met with no slaves, they would 
bring him some ivory and camwood. Sometimes he accompanied them a mile 
or so, and once joined the party, anxious to know by what means they ob 
tained the slaves. Having traveled all day, they came to a small river, when 
he was told they had but a little way farther to go. Having crossed the river, 
they stopped till dark. Here Mr. Bowman (it was about the middle of the 
night) was afraid to go farther, and prevailed on the king's son to leave him a 
guard of four men. In half an hour he heard the war cry, by which he under 
stood they had reached a town. In about half an hour more they returned, 
bringing from twenty-five to thirty men, women and children, some of the latter 
at the breast. At this time he saw the town in flames. When they had re- 
crossed the river, it was just daylight, and they reached Scaffus about mid-day. 
The prisoners were carried to different parts of the town. They are usually 
brought in with strings around their necks, and some have their hands tied 
across. He never saw any slaves there who had been convicted of crimes. 
He has been called up in the night to see fires, and told by the town's people 
that it was war carrying on. 

Whatever rivers he traded in, such as Sierra Leone, Junk, and little Cape 
Mount, he has usually passed burnt and deserted villages, and learned from the 


natives in the boat with him, that war had been there, and the natives had been 
taken in the manner as before described, and carried to the ships. 

He has also seen such upon the Coast : while trading at Grand Bassa, he went 
on shore with four black traders to the town a mile off. On the way, there was 
a town deserted, (with only two or three houses standing), which seemed to 
have been a large one, as there were two fine plantations of rice ready for cut 
ting down. A little further on they came to another village in much the same 
state. He was told that the first town had been taken by war, there being 
many ships then lying at Bassa : the people of the other had moved higher up 
in the country for fear of the white men. In passing along to the trader's 
town, he saw several villages deserted ; these, the natives said, had been de 
stroyed by war, and the people taken out and sold. 

Sir George Young found slaves to be procured by war, by crimes, real or 
imputed, by kidnapping, which is called panyaring, and a fourth mode was the 
inhabitants of one village seizing those of another weaker village, and selling 
them to the ships. He believes, from two instances, that kidnapping was fre 
quently practiced up Sierra Leone river. One was that of a beautiful infant 
boy, which the natives, after trying to sell to all the different trading ships, 
came alongside his, (the Phoenix) and threatened to toss overboard, if no one 
would buy it ; saying they had panyared it with many other people, but could 
not sell it, though they had sold the others. He purchased it for some wine. 
The second was, a captain of a Liverpool ship had got, as a temporary mis 
tress, a girl from the king of Sierra Leone, and instead of returning her on 
shore on leaving the coast, as is usually done, he took her away with him. Of 
this the king complained to Sir George Young very heavily, calling this action 
panyaring by the whites. 

The term panyaring seemed to be a word generally used all along the coast 
where he was, not only among the English, but the Portuguese and Dutch. 

Captain Thompson also says, that at Sierra Leone he has often heard the 
word panyaring ; he has heard also that this word, which is used on other 
parts of the coast, means kidnapping, or seizing of men. 

Slaves, says Mr. Town, are brought from the country very distant from the 
coast. The king of Barra informed Mr. Town, that on the arrival of a ship, 
he has gone three hundred miles up the country with his guards, and driven 
down captives to the sea-side. From Marraba, king of the Mandingoes, he 
has heard that they had marched slaves out of the country some hundred miles ; 
that they had gone wood-ranging, to pick up every one they met with, whom 
they stripped naked, and, if men, bound ; but if women, brought down loose ; 
this he had from themselves, and also, that they often went to war with the 
Bullam nation, on purpose to get slaves. They boasted that they should soon 
have a fine parcel for the shallops, and the success often answered. Mr. Town 
has seen the prisoners (the men bound, the women and children loose) driven 
for sale to the water-side. He has also known the natives to go in gangs, ma 
rauding and catching all they could. In the Galenas river he knew four blacks 
seize a man who had been to the sea-side to sell one or more slaves. This man 



was returning home with the goods received in exchange for these, and they 
plundered him, stripped him naked, and brought him to the trading shallop, 
which Mr. Town commanded, and sold him there. 

He believes the natives also sometimes become slaves, in consequence of 
crimes, as well as, that it is no uncommon thing on the coast, to impute crimes 
falsely for the sake of selling the persons so accused. Several respectable per 
sons at Bance Island, and to windward of it, all told Mr. Town that it was 
common to bring on palavers * to make slaves, and he believes it from the in 
formation of the slaves afterwards, when brought down the country and put on 
board the ships. 

Off Piccaninni Sestos, farther down on the Windward Coast, Mr. Dove ob 
served an instance of a girl being kidnapped and brought on board by one Ben 
Johnson, a black trader, who had scarcely left the ship in his canoe, with the 
price of her, when another canoe with two black men came in a hurry to the 
ship, and inquired concerning this girl. Having been allowed to see her, they 
hurried down to their canoe, and hastily paddled off. Overtaking Ben John 
son, they brought him back to the ship, got him on the quarter-deck, and call 
ing him teefee (which implies thief) to the captain, offered him for sale. Ben 
Johnson remonstrated, asking the captain, "if he would buy him whom he 
knew to be a grand trading man ;" to which the captain answered, "if they 
would sell him, he would certainly buy him, be he what he would," which he 
accordingly did, and put him into irons immediately with another man. He 
was led to think, from this instance, that kidnapping was the mode of obtain 
ing slaves upon this part of the coast. 

Lieutenant Story says that slaves are generally obtained on the Windward 
coast by marauding parties, from one village to another in the night. He has 
known canoes come from a distance, and carry off numbers in the night. He 
has gone into the interior country, between Bassa and the River Sestos ; and 
all the nations there go armed, from the fear of marauding parties, whose pil 
lages in these countries are termed war. At one time in particular, while Mr. 
Story was on the coast, a marauding party from Grand Sestos came in canoes, 
and attacked Grand Cora in the night, and took off twelve or fourteen of the 
inhabitants. The canoes of Grand Sestos carry twelve or fourteen men, and 
with these go a marauding among their neighbors. Mr. Story has often seen 
them at sea out of sight of land in the day, and taking the opportunity of 
night to land where they please'd. 

Mr. Falconbridge supposes the slave trade, on these parts, to be chiefly sup 
plied by kidnapping. On his second voyage, at Cape Mount and the Wind 
ward Coast, a man was brought on board, well known to the captain and his 
officers, and was purchased. This man said he had been invited one evening 
to drink with his neighbors. When about to depart, two of them got up to 
seize him ; and he would have escaped, but he was stopped by a large dog. 

* An African word, which signifies conferences of the natives on any public subject, 
or as in this place, accusations and trials. 


He said this mode of kidnapping was common in his country. In the same 
voyage, two black traders came in a canoe, and stated that there was trade a 
little lower down. The captain went there, and finding no trade, said he would 
not be made a fool, and therefore detained one of the canoe-men. In about 
two hours afterwards a very fine man was brought on board, and sold, and the 
canoe-man was released. He was informed by the black pilot, that this man 
had been surrounded and seized on the beach, from whence he had been brought 
to the ship and sold. 

Lieutenant Simpson says, from what he saw, he believes the slave trade is 
the occasion of wars among the natives. From the natives of the Windward 
Coast he understood that the villages were always at war ; and the black 
traders and others gave as a reason for it, that the kings wanted slaves. If a 
trading canoe, alongside Mr. Simpson's ship, saw a larger canoe coming from 
a village they were at war with, they instantly fled ; and sometimes without 
receiving the value of their goods. On inquiry, he learned their reasons to 
be, that if taken, they would have been made slaves. 

Mr. How states, that wheii at Secundee, some order came from Cape Coast 
Castle. The same afternoon several parties went out armed, and returned the 
same night with a number of slaves, which were put into the repository of the 
factory. Next morning he saw people, who came to see the captives, and to 
request Mr. Marsh, the resident, to release some of their children and relations 
Some were released and part sent off to Cape Coast Castle. He had every 
reason to believe they had been obtained unfairly, as they came at an unsea 
sonable time of the night, and from their parents and friends crying and beg 
ging their release. He was told as much from Mr. Marsh himself, who said, 
he did not mind how they got them, for he purchased them fairly. He cannot 
tell whether this practice subsisted before ; but when he has gone into the 
woods he has met thirty or forty natives, who fled always at his appearance, 
although they were armed. Mr. Marsh said, they were afraid of his taking 
them prisoners. 

The same Mr. Marsh made no scruple also of shewing him the stores of the 
factory. They consisted of different kinds of chains made of iron, as likewise 
an instrument made of wood, about five inches long, of an inch in diameter, or 
less, which he was told by Mr. Marsh was thrust into a man's mouth horizon 
tally, and tied behind to prevent him from crying out, when transported at 
night along the country. 

Dr. Trotter says, that the natives of these parts are sometimes slaves from 
crimes, but the greater part of the slaves are what are called prisoners of war. 
Of his whole cargo he recollects only three criminals : two sold for adultery, 
and one for witchcraft, whose whole family shared his fate. One of the first 
said he had been decoyed by a woman who had told her husband, and he was 
sentenced to pay a slave ; but being poor, was sold himself. Such stratagems 
are frequent : the fourth mate of Dr. Trotter's ship was so decoyed, and obliged 
to pay a slave, under the threat of stopping trade. The last said he had had 


a quarrel with a Cabosbeer (or great man) who in revenge accused him of" 
witchcraft, and sold him and his family for slaves. 

Dr. Trotter having often asked Accra, a principal trader at Le Hou, what 
he meant by prisoners of war, found they were such as were carried off by a 
set of marauders, who ravage the country for that purpose. The bush-men 
making war to make trade (that is to make slaves) was a common way of 
speaking among the traders. The practice was also confirmed by the slaves 
on board, who showed by gestures how the robbers had come upon them ; ai d 
during their passage from Africa to the West Indies, some of the boy-slaves 
played a game, which they called slave-taking, or bush-fighting ; showing the 
different manoeuvres thereof in leaping, sallying, and retreating. Inquiries 
of this nature put to women, were answered only by violent bursts of sorrow. 
He once saw a black trader send his canoe to take three fishermen employed 
in the offing, who were immediately brought on board, and put in irons, and 
about a week afterwards he was paid for them. He remembers another man 
taken in the same way from on board a canoe alongside. The same trader 
very frequently sent slaves on board in the night, which, from their own infor 
mation, he found were every one of them taken in the neighborhood of An- 
namaboe. He remarked, that slaves sent off in the night, were not paid for 
till they had been some time on board, lest, he thinks, they should be claimed ; 
for some were really restored, one in particular, a boy, was carried on shore 
by some near relations, which boy told him he had lived in the neighborhood 
of Annamaboe, and was kidnapped. There were many boys and girls on 
board Dr. Trotter's ship, who had no relations on board. Many of them told 
him they had been kidnapped in the neighborhood of Annamaboe, particularly 
a girl of about eight years old, who said she had been carried off from her 
mother by the man who sold her to the ship. 

Mr. Falconbridge was assured by the Rev. Philip Quakoo, chaplain at Cape 
Coast Castle, on the Gold Coast, that the greatest number of slaves were made 
by kidnapping. He has heard that the men on this part of the coast, dress 
up and employ women, to entice young men, that they may be convicted of 
adultery and sold. 

Lieutenant Simpson heard at Cape Coast Castle, and other parts of the 
Gold Coast, repeatedly from the black traders, that the slave trade made wars 
and palavers. Mr. Quakoo, chaplain at Cape Coast Castle, informed him 
that wars were made in the interior parts, for the sole purpose of getting 
slaves. There are two crimes on the Gold Coast, which seem made on purpose 
to procure slaves : adultery and the removal of fetiches.* As to adultery, he 
was warned against any woman not pointed out to him, for that the kings kept 
several who were sent out to allure the unwary. As to fetiches, consisting of 
pieces of wood, old pitchers, kettles, and the like, laid in the path-ways, he 
was warned to avoid displacing them, for if he should, the natives who were 

* Certain things of various sorts, to which the superstition of the country has ordered, 
for various reasons, an attention to be paid. 


on the watch would seize him, and, as before, exact the price of a man slave. 
These baits are laid equally for natives and Europeans ; but the former are 
better acquainted with the law, and consequently more upon their guard. 

Mr. Ellison says, that while one of the ships he belonged to, viz : the 
Briton, was lying in Benin river, Capt. Lemma Lemma, a Benin trader, came 
on board to receive his customs. This man being on the deck, and happening 
to see a canoe with three people in it crossing the river, dispatched one of his 
own canoes to seize and take it. Upon overtaking it, they brought it to the 
ship. It contained three persons, an old man and a young man and woman. 
The chief mate bought the two latter, but the former being too old, was re 
fused. Upon this, Lemma ordered the old man into the canoe, where his head 
was chopped off, and he was thrown overboard. Lemma had many war 
canoes, some of which had six or eight swivels ; he seemed to be feared by the 
rest of the natives. Mr. Ellison did not see a canoe out on the river while 
Lemma was there, except this, and if they had known he had been out, they 
would not have come. He discovered by signs, that the old man killed was 
the father of the two other negroes, and that they were brought there by force. 
They were not the subjects of Lemma. 

At Bonny, says Mr. Falconbridge, the greatest number of slaves come from 
inland. Large canoes, some having a three or four pounder lashed on their 
bows, go to the up country, and in eight or ten days return with great num 
bers of slaves : he heard once, to the amount of 1200 at one time. The peo 
ple in these canoes have generally cutlasses, and a quantity of muskets, but he 
cannot tell for what use. Mr. Falconbridge does not believe that many of 
these slaves are prisoners of war, as we understand the word war. In Africa, 
a piratical expedition for making slaves is termed war. A considerable trader 
at Bonny explained to him the meaning of this word, and said that they went 
in the night, set fire to towns, and caught the people as they fled from the 
flames. The same trader said that this practice was very common. In the 
same voyage an elderly man brought on board said (through the interpreter) 
that he and his son were seized as they were planting yams, by professed kid 
nappers, by which he means persons who make kidnapping their constant prac 
tice. On his last voyage, which was also to Bonny, a canoe came alongside 
his vessel, belonging to a noted trader in slaves, from which a fine stout fellow 
was handed on board, and sold. Mr. Falconbridge seeing the man amazed 
and confounded when he discovered himself to be a slave, inquired of him, by 
means of an interpreter, why he was sold. He replied, that he had had occa 
sion to come to Bonny to this trader's house, who asked if he had ever seen a 
ship. Replying no, the trader said he would treat him with the sight of one. 
The man consented, said he was thereupon brought on board, and thus treach 
erously sold. All the slaves Mr. Falconbridge ever talked to by means of in 
terpreters, said they had been stolen. 

Mr. Douglas, when ashore at Bonny Point, saw a young woman come out 
of the wood to the water-side to bathe. Soon afterwards two men came from 
the wood, seized, bound, and beat her for making resistance, and bringing her 


to him, Mr. Douglas, desired him to put her on board, which he did ; the cap 
tain's orders were, when any body brought down slaves, instantly to put them 
off to the ship. When a ship arrives at Bonny, the king sends his war canoes 
up the rivers, where they surprise all they can lay hold of. They had a young 
man on board, who was thus captured, with his father, mother, and three sis 
ters. The young man afterwards in Jamaica having learned English, told Mr. 
Douglas the story, and said it was a common practice. These war canoes are 
always armed. The king's canoes came with slaves openly in the day ; others 
in the evening, with one or two slaves bound, lying in the boat's bottom, cov 
ered with mats. 

Mr. Morley states, that in Old Calabar persons are sold as slaves for adul 
tery and theft. On pretence of adultery, he remembers a woman sold. He 
has been told also by the natives at Calabar, that they took slaves in what they 
call war, which he found was putting the villages in confusion, and catching 
them as they could. A man on board the ship he was in, showed how he 
was taken at night by surprise, and said his wife and children were taken with 
him, but they were not in the same ship. Mr. Morley had reason to think, 
from the man's words, that they took nearly the whole village, that is, all those 
that could not get away. 

Captain Hall says, when a ship arrives at Old Calabar, or the river Del- 
Rey, the traders always go up into the country for slaves. They go in their 
war canoes, and take with them some goods, which they get previously from 
the ships. He has seen from three to ten canoes in a fleet, each with from 
forty to sixty paddlers, and twenty to thirty traders and other people with mus 
kets, suppose one to each man, with a three or four pounder lashed on the bow 
of the canoe. They are generally absent from ten days to three weeks, when 
they return with a number of slaves pinioned, or chained together. Captain 
Hall has often asked the mode of procuring slaves inland, and has been told 
by the traders, that they have been got in war, and sold by the persons taking 

Mr. J. Parker says, he left the ship to which he belonged at Old Calabar, 
where being kindly received by the king's son, he staid with him on the conti 
nent for five months. During this time he was prevailed upon by the king's 
son, to accompany him to war.* Accordingly, having fitted out and armed 
the canoes, they went up the river Calabar. In the day time they lay under 
the bushes when they approached a village, but at night flew up to it, and took 
hold of every one they could see ; these they handcuffed, brought down to the 
canoes, and so proceeded up the river till they got to the amount of forty-five, 
with whom they returned to Newtown, where, sending to the captains of the 
shipping, they divided them among the ships. About a fortnight after this ex 
pedition, they went again, and were out eight or nine days, plundering other 

* The reader is requested to take notice, that the word war, as adopted in the African 
language, means in general robbery, or a marauding expedition, for the purpose of get 
ting slaves. 


villages higher up the river. They seized on much the same number as before, 
brought them to Isewtown, gave the same notice, and disposed of them as 
before among the ships. They took man, woman and child, as they could 
catch them in the houses, and except sucking children, who went with their 
mothers, there was no care taken to prevent the separation of the children 
from the parents when sold. When sold to the English merchant they lamen 
ted, and cried that they were taken away by force. The king at Old Calabar 
was certainly not at war with the people up this river, nor had they made any 
attack upon him. It happened that slaves were very slack in the back country 
at that time, and were wanted when he went on these expeditions. 

Mr. Falconbridge thinks crimes are falsely imputed, for the sake of selling 
the accused. On the second voyage at the river Ambris, among the slaves 
brought on board was one who had the craw craw, a kind of itch. He was 
told by one of the sailors, that this man was fishing in the river, when a king's 
officer, called Mambooka, wanted brandy and other goods in the boat, but 
having no slave to buy them with, accused this man of extortion in the sale of 
his fish, and after some kind of trial on the beach, condemned him to be sold. 
He was told by the boat's crew who were ashore, when it happened, who told 
it as of their own knowledge. 

Beside the accounts just given, from what the above witnesses saw and heard 
on the coast of Africa, as to the different methods of making slaves, there are 
others contained in the evidence, which were learned from the mouths of the 
slaves themselves, after their arrival in the West Indies. 

The Moors, says Mr. Keirnan, have always a strong inducement to go to 
war with the negroes, most of the European goods they obtain, being got in 
exchange for slaves. Hence, desolation and waste. Mr. Town observes, that 
the intercourse of the Africans with the Europeans, has improved them in 
roguery, to plunder and steal, and pick up one another to sell. Dr. Trotter 
asking a black trader, what they made of their slaves when the French and 
English were at war, was answered, that when ships ceased to come, slaves 
ceased to be taken. Mr. Isaac Parker says, that the king of Old Calabar 
was certainly not at war with the people up that river, nor had they made any 
attack on him. It happened that slaves were very slack in the back country 
at this time, and were wanted when he went on the expeditions, described in a 
former page. 

Mr. Wadstrom says, the king Barbesin, while he, Mr. Wadstrom, was at 
Joal, was unwilling to pillage his subjects, but he was excited to it by means of 
a constant intoxication, kept up by the French and mulattoes of the embassy, 
who generally agreed every morning on taking this method to effect their 
purpose. When sober, he always expressed a reluctance to harrass his people. 
Mr. Wadstrom also heard the king hold the same language on different days, 
and yet he afterwards ordered the pillage to be executed. Mr. Wadstrom 
has no doubt, but that he also pillages in other parts of his dominions, since 
it is the custom of the mulatto merchants (as both they and the French officers 
declare) when they want slaves, to go to the kings, and excite them to pillages 


which are usually practiced on all that part of the coast. The French Sene 
gal company, also, in order to obtain their complement of slaves, had recourse 
to their usual method on similar occasions, namely, of bribing the Moors, and 
supplying them with arms and ammunition, to seize king Dalmammy's subjects. 
By January 12th, IT 88, when Mr. Wadstrom arrived at Senegal, fifty had 
been taken, whom the king desired to ransom, but they had all been dispatched 
to Cayenne. Some were brought in every day afterwards, and put in the com 
pany's slave-hold, in a miserable state, the greater part being badly wounded 
by sabres and musket balls. The director of the company conducted Mr. 
Wadstrom there, with Dr. Spaarman, whom he consulted as a medical man in 
their behalf. Mr. Wadstrom particularly remembers one lying in his blood, 
which flowed from a wound made by a ball in his shoulder. 

Mr. Dalrymple understood it common for European traders to advance goods 
to chiefs, to induce them to seize their subjects or neighbors. Not one of the 
mulatto traders at Goree ever thought of denying it. 

Mr. Bowman having settled at the head of Scassus river, informed the king, 
and others, that he was come to reside as a trader, and that his orders were, 
to supply them with powder and ball, and encourage them to go to war. They 
answered, they would go to war in two or three days. By this time they came 
to the factory, said they were going to war, and wanted powder, ball, rum and 
tobacco. When these were given them, they went off to the number of from 
twenty-five to thirty, and in six or seven days, a part of them returned with 
three slaves. 

In 1T69, (says Lieut. Storey,) Captain Paterson, of a Liverpool ship, lying 
off Bristol town, set two villages at variance, and bought prisoners, near a 
dozen, from both sides. 

Mr. Morley owns, with shame, that h& has made the natives drunk, in order 
to buy a good man or woman slave, to whom he found them attached. He 
has seen this done by others. Captain Hildebrand, commanding a sloop of 
Mr. Brue's, bought one of the wives of a man, whom he had previously made 
drunk, and who wished to redeem her, when sober next day, as did the person 
he (Mr. Morley) bought the man of, but neither of them was given up. He 
supposes they would have given a third more than the price paid, to have re 
deemed them. 

Sir George Young says, that when at Annamaboe, at Mr. Brue's, (a very 
great merchant there,) Mr. Brue had two hostages, kings' sons, for payment 
for arms, and all kinds of military stores, which he had supplied to the two 
kings, who were at war with each other, to procure slaves for at least six or 
seven ships, then lying in the road. The prisoners on both sides were brought 
down to Mr. Brue, and sent to the ships. 

Mr. J. Parker has known presents made by the captains, to the black traders, 
to induce them to bring slaves. Captain Colley in particular gave them some 
pieces of cannon, which he himself saw landed. 

On the subject of Europeans attempting to carry off the natives, General 
Rooke says that it was proposed to him by three captains of English slave 


ships, lying under the fort of Goree, to kidnap a hundred, or a hundred and 
fifty, men, women and children, king Darnel's subjects, who had come to Goree 
in consequence of the friendly intercourse between him and Darnel. He re 
fused, and was much shocked by the proposition. They said such things had 
been done by a former governor, but the chief Maraboo at Rufisk did not re 
collect any such event. 

Mr. Wadstrom was informed at Goree, by Captain Wignie, from Rochelle, 
who was just arrived from the river Gambia, that a little before his departure 
from that river, three English vessels were cut off by the natives, owing to the 
captain of one of them, who had his cargo, being tempted by a fair wind to 
sail away with several of the free negroes, then drinking with the crew. Soon 
afterwards the wind changed and he was driven back, seized, and killed, with 
all his crew, and those of the two other vessels. Mr. Wadstrom has, by acci 
dent, met with the insurer of two of these vessels in London, who confirmed 
the above facts. 

Captain Hills says a man at Gambia, who called himself a prince's brother, 
had been carried off to the West Indies, by an English ship, but making his 
case known to the governor, was sent by him to Europe. Captain Hills was 
advised not to go on shore at Gambia, by the merchants there, for fear of be 
ing taken by the natives, who owed the English a grudge for some injuries 

Mr. John Bowman says, that when a mate under Captain Strangeways, the 
ship then lying in the river Sierra Leone, at White Man's Bay, ready to sail, he 
was sent on shore to invite two traders on board. They came and were shown 
into the cabin. Meantime people were employed in setting the sails, it being 
almost night, and the land breeze making down the river. When they had 
weighed anchor, and got out to sea, Mr. Bowman was called down by the cap 
tain, who, pointing to the sail-case, desired him to look into it and see what a 
fine prize he had got. To his surprise, he saw lying fast asleep the two n,cn 
who had come on board with him, the captain having made them drunk, uud 
concealed them there. When they awoke they were sent upon deck, ironed, 
and put forward with the other slaves. On arriving at Antigua they ero 

The Rev. Mr. Newton has known ships and boats cut off at Sherbro, usually 
in retaliation. Once, when he was on shore, the traders suddenly put him into 
his long-boat, telling him that a ship just passed had carried off two people. 
Had it been known in the town, he would have been detained. He has known 
many other such instances, but after thirty-six years, he cannot specify them. 
It was a general opinion, founded on repeated and indisputable facts, that 
depredations of this sort were frequently committed by Europeans. Mr. New 
ton has sometimes found all trade stopped, and the depredations of European 
traders have been assigned by the natives as the cause, and he has more thai, 
once made up breaches of this kind between the ships and the natives. Ho 
believes several captains of slave ships were honest, humane men ; but he has 
good reason to think they were not all so. The taking off slaves by force ha. f . 


been thought most frequent in the last voyage of captains He has often heard 
masters and officers express this opinion. Depredations and reprisals made to 
get them were so frequent that the Europeans and Africans were in a spirit of 
mutual distrust : he does not mean that there were no depredations except in 
their last voyages. He has known Liverpool and Bristol ships materially in 
jured from the conduct of some ships, from the same ports, that had left the 
coast. It is a fact that some captains have committed depredations in their 
last voyages who have not been known to have done it before. 

Mr. Towne was once present with part of the crew of his ship, the Sally, at 
an expedition undertaken by the whites for seizing negroes, and joined by other 
boats to receive those they could catch. To prevent all alarm, they bound the 
mouths of the captives with oakum and handkerchiefs. One woman shrieked 
and the natives turned out in defense. He had then five of them tied in the 
boat, and the other boats were in readiness to take in what more they could 
get. All his party were armed, and the men of the town pursued them with 
first a scattering, and at length a general fire, and several of the men belong 
ing to the boats, he has reason to believe, were killed, wounded, or taken, as 
he never heard of them afterwards. He was wounded himself. The slaves he 
had taken were sold at Charleston, South Carolina. The natives had not pre 
viously committed any hostilities against any of the ships, whose boats were 
concerned in this transaction. They owed goods to the captain, for which he 
resolved to obtain slaves at any rate. He has had several ship-mates, who 
have themselves told him they have been concerned in similar transactions, 
and who have made a boast of it, and who have been wounded also. 

Mr. Storey believes the natives of the Windward Coast are often fraudulently 
carried off by the Europeans. He has been told by them thai they had lost 
their friends at different times, and supposed them taken by European ships 
going along the coast. He has himself taken up canoes at sea, which were 
challenged by the natives, who supposed the men in them had been taken off 
the day before by a Dutchman. When once at an anchor, in his boat, between 
the river Sestos and Settra Crue, he prevented the crew of a long-boat, be 
longing to a Dutchman then lying off shore, from being cut off by the natives, 
who gave as a reason for their intentions, that a ship of that country some 
days before had taken off four men belonging to the place. Afterwards, in 
1768, being in a boat, with two other white persons, the natives attacked them. 
Both the former were killed, and he himself, covered with blood and wounds, 
was only suffered to escape, by consenting to give up boat and cargo, and to 
go to Gaboon. The reason the natives gave for this procedure was, that a 
ship from Liverpool (one Captain Lambert) had, some time before, taken a 
canoe full of their townsmen, and carried her away. He heard the same thing 
confirmed afterwards at Gaboon. 

Mr. Douglas states that near Cape Coast the natives make smoke as a sig 
nal for trade. On board his ship (the Warwick Castle) they saw the smoke 
and stood in shore, which brought off many canoes. Pipes, tobacco, and 
brandy were got on deck, to entice the people in them on board. The grat- 


ings were unlaid, the slave-room cleared, and every preparation made to seize 
them ; two only could be prevailed on to come up the ship's side, who stood 
in the main chains, but on the seamen approaching them they jumped off, and 
the canoes all made for the shore. The Gregson's people, while at Bonny, in 
formed Mr. Douglas, that in running down the coast, they had kidnapped 
thirty-two of the natives. He saw slaves on board that ship when she came 
in, and it is not customary for ships bound to Bonny to stop and trade by the 

Mr. How says that abreast of Cape La Hou, several canoes came alongside 
of his Majesty's ship Grampus, and on coming on board informed the captain 
that an English Guinea-trader, a fortnight before, had taken off six canoes 
with men, who had gone off to them with provisions for trade. On coming to 
Appolonia he was also told by Mr. Buchanan, the resident there, that a Guinea- 
man, belonging to one Griffith, an Englishman, and a notorious trader and 
kidnapper, between Cape La Hou and Appolonia, was then in that latitude. 

Captain Hall was told by Captain Jeremiah Smith, that in 17T1, a Captain 
Fox had taken off some people from the Windward Coast. He says also that 
the boat's crew of the Yenus, Captain Smith, which had been sent to Fernando 
Po for yams from Calabar, enticed a canoe to come alongside that had about 
ten men in her. As soon as she got near, the boat's crew fired into her, on 
which they jumped overboard : some were wounded, and one was taken out of 
the water, and died in less than an hour in the boat : two others were taken up 
unhurt, and carried to Old Calabar to the ship. Captain Smith was angry at 
the officer for this procedure, and sent back the two men to the bay from 
whence they had been taken. Immediately after the boat had committed this 
depredation, Captain Hall happened to go into the same bay in his own ship's 
long-boat, and sending on shore two men to fill water, they were surrounded 
by the natives, who drove three spears into one of the men, and wounded the 
other with a large stick, in consequence of taking away the two men just men 
tioned. It was said that the crew had disputed with the natives on shore when 
trading with them for yams, but the former had not done any of the boat's 
crew any injury. 

Mr. Ellison knew two slaves taken from the island of Fernando Po by the 
Dobson's boat of Liverpool, and carried to Old Calabar, where the ship lay. 
He went to the same island for yams, a few days after the transaction, and 
fired, as the usual signal, for the natives to bring them. Seeing some of them 
peep through the bushes, he wondered why they would not come to the boat. 
He accordingly swam on shore, when some of the islanders came round him : 
an old man showed, by signs, that a ship's boat had stolen a man and woman. 
He was then soon surrounded by numbers, who presented darts to him, signi 
fying that they would kill him, if the man and woman were not brought back. 
Upon this, the people in the boat fired some shot, when they all ran into the 
woods. Mr. Ellison went to Calabar, and told Captain Briggs he could get 
no yams, in consequence of the two people being stolen ; upon which Captain 
Briggs told the captain of the Dobson there would be no more 'trade if he did 


not deliver up the people, which he at length did. As soon as the natives saw 
their countrymen, they loaded the boat with yams, goats, fowls, honey, and 
palm- wine : and they would take nothing for them. They had the man and 
woman delivered to them, whom they carried away in their arms. The Dobson 
did not stay above eight, ten, or twelve days. This was the last trip her boat 
was to make, when they carried off the two slaves. 

Mr. Morley says, that when off Taboo, two men came in a canoe, alongside 
his vessel. One of them came up and sat on the netting, but would not come 
into the ship. The captain at length enticing him, intoxicated him so with 
brandy and laudanum, that he fell in upon the deck. The captain then ordered 
him to be put into the men's room, with a sentry over him. The other man 
in the canoe, after calling in vain for his companion, paddled off fast towards 
the shore. The captain fired several musket balls after him, which did not hit 
him. About three or four leagues farther down, two men came on board from 
another canoe. While they were on board, a drum was kept beating near the 
man who had been seized, to prevent his hearing them, or they him. He says 
again, in speaking of another part of the coast, that Captain Briggs's chief 
mate, in Old Calabar river, lying in ambush to stop the natives coming down 
the creek, pursued Oruk Robin John, who, jumping on shore, shot the mate 
through the head. He says also, of another part of the coast, that a Mr. 
Walker, master of a sloop, was on board the Jolly Prince, Captain Lambert, 
when the king of Nazareth stabbed the captain at his own table, and took the 
vessel, putting all the whites to death, except the cook, a boy, and, he believes, 
one man. Captain Walker, being asked why the king of Nazareth took this 
step, said it was on account of the people whom Matthews had carried off from 
Gaboon and Cape Lopez the voyage before. Walker escaped by knowing the 
language of the country. Mr. Morley sailed afterwards with the same Cap 
tain Matthews to Gaboon river, where the chiefs' sons came on board to de 
mand what he had done with their sons, and the boys he had carried off, (the 
same that Walker alluded to,) and told him that if he dared to come on shore, 
they would have his head. 

As a farther corroboration that such practices as the above take place, it ap 
pears in evidence, that the natives of the coast and islands are found constantly 
hovering in their canoes, at a distance, about such vessels as are passing by, 
shy of coming on board, for fear of being taken off. But if they can discover 
that such vessels are not in the slave trade, but are men-of-war, they come on 
board readily, or without any hesitation, which they would not otherwise have 
done, and in numbers, and traverse the ships with as much confidence as if they 
had been on shore. 

Mr. Ellison says, when he was lying at Yanamaroo, in the Gambia, slaves 
were brought down. The traders raised the price. The captains would not 
give it, but thought to compel them by firing upon the town. They fired red 
hot shot from the ship, and set several houses on fire. All the ships, seven or 
eight, fired. 

Mr. Falconbridge heard Captain Vicars, of a Bristol ship, say at Bonny, 


when his traders were slack, he fired a gun into or over the town, to fi-cshoa 
their way. Captain Vicars told this to him and other people there at the time, 
but he has seen no instance of it himself. 

Mr. Isaac Parker says the Guinea captains lying in Old Calabar river, fixed 
on a certain price, and agreed to lie under a 50 bond, if any one of them 
should give more for slaves than another ; in consequence of which, the natives 
did not readily bring slaves on board to sell at those prices ; upon which, the 
captains used to row guard at night, to take the canoes as they passed the ships, 
and so stopping the slaves from getting to their towns, prevent the traders from 
getting them. These they took on board the different ships, and kept them 
till the traders agreed to slave at the old prices. 

Lieutenant Storey says that Captain Jeremiah Smith, in the London, in 
1766, having a dispute with the natives of New Town, Old Calabar, concern 
ing the stated price which he was to give for slaves, for several days stopped 
every canoe coming down the creek from New Town, and also fired several 
guns indiscriminately over the woods into the town, till he brought them to his 
own terms. 

Captain Hall says, in Old Calabar river there are two towns, Old Town and 
New Town. A rivalship in trade produced a jealousy between the towns ; so 
that, through fear of each other, for a considerable time, no canoe would leave 
their towns to go up the river for slaves. This happened in 1767. In this 
year, seven ships, of which five were the following Duke of York, Bevan ; 
Edgar, Lace ; Indian Queen, Lewis ; Nancy, Maxwell ; and Canterbury, 
Sparkes, lay off the point which separates the towns. Six of the captains 
invited the people of both towns on board on a certain day, as if to reconcile 
them : at the same time they agreed with the people of New Town to cut off 
all the Old Town people who should remain on board the next morning. The 
Old Town people, persuaded of the sincerity 'of the captains' proposal, went 
on board in great numbers. Next morning, at eight o'clock, one of the ships 
fired a gun, as a signal to commence hostilities. Some of the traders were se 
cured on board, some were killed in resisting, and some got overboard, and 
were fired upon. When the firing began, the New Town people, who were in 
ambush behind the Point, came forward and picked up the people of Old Town, 
who were swimming, and had escaped the firing. After the firing was over, 
the captains of five of the ships delivered their prisoners (persons of conse 
quence) to the New Town canoes, two of whom were beheaded alongside the 
ships. The inferior prisoners were carried to the West Indies. One of the 
captains, who had secured three of the king's brothers, delivered one of them 
to the chief man of New Town, who was one of the two beheaded alongside ; 
the other brothers he kept on board, promising, when the ship was slaved, to 
deliver them to the chief man of New Town. His ship was soon slaved on ac 
count of his promise, and the number of prisoners made that day ; but he re 
fused to deliver the king's two brothers, according to his promise, and carried 
them to the West Indies, and sold them. It happened in process of time, that 
they escaped to Virginia, and from thence, after three years, to Bristol, where 


the captain who brought them, fearing he had done wrong, meditated carrying 
or sending them back, but Mr. Jones, of Bristol, who had ships trading to Old 
Calabar, and hearing who they were, had them taken from the ship, where 
they were in irons, by habeas corpus. After inquiry how they were brought 
from Africa, they were liberated, and put in one of Mr. Jones's ships for Old 
Calabar, where Captain Hall was, when they arrived in the ship Cato. 

So satisfied were the people of Old Town, in 1767, of the sincerity of the 
captains who invited them, and of the New Town people, towards a reconcili 
ation, tha the night before the massacre, the chief man of Old Town gave to 
the chief man of New Town one of his favorite women as a wife. It was said 
that from three to four hundred persons were killed that day, in the ships, in 
the water, or carried off the coast. The king escaped from the ship he was in, 
by killing two of the crew, who attempted to seize him. He then got into a 
one-man canoe, and paddled to the shore. A six pounder from one of the ships 
struck the canoe to pieces ; he then swam on shore to the woods near the ships, 
and reached his own town, though closely pursued. It was said he received 
eleven wounds from musket shot. 

Captain Hall, in his first voyage on board the Neptune, had this account 
from the boatswain, Thomas Rutter, who, in 1767, had been boatswain to the 
Canterbury, Captain Sparkes, of London, and concerned in the said massacre. 
Rutter told him the story exactly as related, and never varied in it. He had 
it also from the king's two brothers, who agreed exactly with Rutter. Captain 
Hall also saw at Calabar, in the possession of the king's two brothers, their 
depositions taken at Bristol, and of Mr. Floyd, who was mate of one of the 
ships when the transaction happened, but he took no copy. Mr. Millar says 
that a quarrel happened between the people of Old and New Town, which pre 
vented the ships lying in Calabar river from being slaved. He believes that in 
June, 1767, Captain S. Sparkes, (captain of his ship, the Canterbury,) came 
one evening to him, and told him that the two towns, so quarreling, would meet 
on board the different ships, and ordered him to hand up some swords. 

The next day several canoes, as Sparkes had before advertised him, came 
from both of the towns, on board the Canterbury, Mr. Millar's own ship, and 
one of the persons so coming on board, brought a letter, which he gave Sparkes, 
immediately on the receipt of which, he, Sparkes, took a hanger, and attacked 
one of the Old Town people then on board, cutting him immediately on the 
arms, head and body. The man fled, ran down the steps leading to the cabin, 
and Sparkes still following him with the hanger, darted into the boy's room 
Mr. Millar is sure this circumstance can never be effaced from his memory 
From this room he was, however, brought up by means of a rope, and Sparkes 
renewing his attack on him, he leaped overboard. 

This being concluded, Sparkes left his own ship to go on board some of the 
other ships then lying in the river. Soon after he was gone, a boy belonging 
to Mr. Millar's ship came and informed him, Mr. Millar, that he had discov 
ered a man concealed behind the medicine chest. Mr. Millar went and found 
the man. He was the person before mentioned as having brought a letter on 


board. On being discovered by Mr. Millar, he begged for mercy, entreating 
that he might not be delivered up to the people of New Town. He was 
brought on the quarter-deck, where were some of the New Town people, who 
would have killed him, had they not been prevented. The man was then ironed, 
and conducted into the room of the men slaves. 

Soon after this transaction, the captain returned, and brought with him a 
New Town trader, named Willy Honesty. On coming on board, he was in 
formed of what had happened in his absence, and Mr. Millar believes, in the 
hearing of Willy Honesty, who immediately exclaimed, " Captain, if you will 
give me that man, to cut off his head, I will give you the best man in my ca 
noe, and you shall be slaved the first ship." The captain upon this looked into 
Willy Honesty's canoe, picked his man, and delivered the other in his stead, 
when his head was immediately struck off in Mr. Millar's sight. 

Mr. Millar believes that some other cruelties, besides this particular act, were 
done, because he saw blood on the starboard side of the mizzen-mast, though 
he does not recollect seeing any bodies from whence the blood might come ; 
and others in other ships, because he heard several muskets or pistols fired from 
them at the same time. This affair might last ten minutes. He remembers a 
four-pounder fired at a canoe, but knows not whether any damage was done. 

As to other acts of injustice on the part of the Europeans, some consider 
frauds (says Mr. Newton) as a necessary branch of the slave-trade. They put 
false heads into powder casks ; cut off two or three yards from the middle of a 
piece of cloth ; adulterate their spirits, and steal back articles given. Besides 
these, there are others who pay in bottles, which contain but half the contents 
of the samples shown ; use false steelyards and weights, and sell such guns as 
burst on firing, so that many of the natives of the Windward Coast are with 
out their fingers and thumbs on this account. 




Abstract of Evidence before House of Commons, continued. The enslaved Africans on 
board the Ships their dejection. Methods of confining, airing, feeding and exerci 
sing them. Mode of stowing them, and its horrible consequences.' Incidents of the 
terrible Middle Passage shackles, chains, whips, filth, foul air, disease, suffocation. 
Suicides by drowning, by starvation, by wounds, by strangling. Insanity and Death. 
Manner of selling them when arrived at their destination. Deplorable situation 
of the refuse or sickly Slaves. Mortality among Seamen engaged in the Slave Trade. 
Their miserable condition and sufferings from disease, and cruel treatment. 


HE natives of Africa having been made slaves in the modes described in 
the former charter, are brought down for sale to the European ships. On 


being brought on board, says Dr. Trotter, they show signs of extreme distress 
and despair, from a feeling of their situation, and regret at being torn from 
their friends and connections ; many retain those impressions for a long time ; 
in proof of which, the slaves on board his ship being often heard in the night 
making a howling melancholy noise, expressive of extreme anguish, he repeat 
edly ordered the woman who had been his interpreter to inquire into the 
cause. She discovered it to be owing to their having dreamed they were in 
their own country again, and finding themselves, when awake, in the hold of a 
slave-ship. This exquisite sensibility was particularly observable among the 
women, many of whom, on such occasions, he found in hysteric fits. 

The foregoing description, as far as relates to their dejection, when brought 
on board, and the cause of it, is confirmed by Hall, Wilson, Claxton, Ellison, 
Towne, and Falconbridge, the latter of whom relates an instance of a young 
woman who cried and pined away after being brought on board, who recovered 
when put on shore, and who hung herself when informed she was to be sent 
again to the ship. 

Captain Hall says, after the first eight or ten of them come on board, the 
men are put into irons. They are linked two and two together by the hands 
and feet, in which situation they continue till they arrive in the West Indies, 
except such as may be sick, whose irons are then taken off. The women, how 
ever, he says, are not ironed. On being brought up in a morning, says Surgeon 
Wilson, an additional mode of securing them takes place, for to the shackles 
of each pair of them there is a ring, through which is reeved a large chain, 
which locks them all in a body to ring-bolts fastened to the deck. The time 
of their coming up in the morning, if fair, is described by Mr. Towne to be 
between eight and nine, and the time of their remaining there to be till four in 
the afternoon, when they are again put below till the next morning. In the 
interval of being upon deck they are fed twice. They have also a pint of 
water allowed to each of them a day, which being divided is served out to 
them at two different times, namely, after their meals. These meals, says Mr. 
Falconbridge, consist of rice, yams, and horse-beans, with now and then a 
little beef and bread. After meals they are made to jump in their irons. 
This is called dancing by the slave-dealers. In every ship he has been desired 
to flog such as would not jump. He had generally a cat-of -nine-tails in his 
hand among the women, and the chief mate, he believes, another among the men. 

The parts, says Mr. Claxton, (to continue the account,) on which their 
shackles are fastened, are often excoriated by the violent exercise they are thus 
forced to take, of which they made many grievous complaints to him. In his 
ship even those who had the flux, scurvy, and such oedematous swellings in 
their legs as made it painful to them to move at all, were compelled to dance 
by the cat. He says, also, that on board his ship they sometimes sung, 
but not for their amusement. The captain ordered them to sing, and they 
sung songs of sorrow. The subject of these songs were their wretched situa 
tion, and the idea of never returning home. He recollects their very words 
upon these occasions. 


The above account of shackling, messing, dancing,* and singing the slaves, 
is allowed by all the witnesses, as far as they speak to the same points, except 
by Mr. Falconbridge, in whose ships the slaves had a pint and a half of water 
per day. 

On the subject of the stowage and its consequences, Dr. Trotter says that 
the slaves in the passage are so crowded below, that it is impossible to walk 
through them, without treading on them. Those who are out of irons are 
locked spoonways (in the technical phrase) to one another. It is the first 
mate's duty to see them stowed in this way every morning ; those who do not 
get quickly into their places, are compelled by a cat-of-nine-tails. 

When the scuttles are obliged to be shut, the gratings are not sufficient for 
airing the rooms. He never himself could breathe freely, unless immediately 
under the hatchway. He has seen the slaves drawing their breath with all 
those laborious and anxious efforts for life, which are observed in expiring 
animals, subjected by experiment to foul air, or in the exhausted receiver 
of an air pump. He has also seen them, when the tarpaulings have inadvert 
ently been thrown over the gratings, attempting to heave them up, crying out 
in their own language, " We are dying ! " On removing the tarpauliugs and 
gratings, they would fly to the hatchway with all the signs of terror and dread 
of suffocation. Many of them he has seen in a dying state, but some have re 
covered by being brought hither, or on the deck ; others were irrecoverably 
lost by suffocation, having had no previous signs of indisposition. 

Mr. Falconbridge also states on this head, that when employed in stowing 
the slaves, he made the most of the room and wedged them. in. They had not 
so much room as a man in his coffin, either in length or breadth. It was im 
possible for them to turn or shift with any degree of ease. He had often 
occasion to go from one side of their rooms to the other, in which case he 
always took off his shoes, but could not avoid pinching them ; he has the 
marks on his feet where they bit and scratched him. In every voyage, when 
the ship was full, they complained of heat and want of air. Confinement in 
this situation was so injurious, that he has known them to go down apparently in 
good health at night, and found dead in the morning. On his last voyage he 
opened a stout man who so died. He found the contents of the thorax and 
abdomen healthy, and therefore concludes he died of suffocation in the night 
He was never among them for ten minutes below together, but his shirt was as 
wet as if dipped in water. 

One of his ships, the Alexander, coming out of Bonny, got aground on the 
bar, and was detained there six or seven days, with a great swell and heavy 
rain. At this time the air ports were obliged to be shut, and part of the 
gratings on the weather side covered : almost all the men slaves were taken ill 
with the flux. The last time he went down to see them, it was so hot he took 
off his shirt. More than twenty of them had then fainted, or were fainting. 

* The necessity of exercise for health is the reason giyen for compellng the slaves to 
dance in the above manner. 


He got, however, several of them hauled on deck. Two or three of these 
died, and most of the rest, before they reached the West Indies. He was 
down only about fifteen minutes, and became so ill by it that he could not get 
up without help, and was disabled (the dysentery seizing him also) from doing 
duty the rest of the passage. On board the same ship he has known two or 
three instances of a dead and living slave found in the morning shackled 

The crowded state of the slaves, and the pulling off the shoes by the sur 
geons, as described above, that they might not hurt them in traversing their 
rooms, are additionally mentioned by surgeons Wilson and Claxtou. The 
slaves are said also by Hall and Wilson to complain on account of heat. 
Both Hall, Towne, and Morley, describe them as often in a violent perspira 
tion, or dew sweat. Mr. Ellison has seen them faint through heat, and obliged 
to be brought on deck, the steam coming up through the gratings like a fur 
nace. In Wilson's and Towne's ships, some have gone below well in an even 
ing, and in the morning have been found dead ; and Mr. Newton has often 
seen a dead and living man chained together, and, to use his own words, one 
of the pair dead. 

To come now to the different incidents on the passage. Mr. Falconbridge 
says that there is a place in every ship for the sick slaves, but there are 
no accommodations for them, for they lie on the bare planks. He has seen 
frequently the prominent parts of their bones about the shoulder-blade and 
knees bare. He says he cannot conceive any situation so dreadful and dis 
gusting as that of slaves when ill of the flux ; in the Alexander, the deck was 
covered with blood and mucus, and resembled a slaughter-house. The stench 
and foul air were intolerable. 

He has known several slaves on board refuse sustenance, with a design 
to starve themselves. Compulsion was used in every ship he was in to make 
them take their food. He has known also many instances of their refusing to 
take medicines when sick, because they wished to die. A woman on board the 
Alexander was dejected from the moment she came on board, and refused 
both food and medicine : being asked by the interpreter what she wanted, she 
replied, nothing but to die and she did die. Many other slaves expressed 
the same wish. 

The ships, he says, are fitted up with a view to prevent slaves jumping over 
board ; notwithstanding which he has known instances of their doing so. In 
the Alexander two were lost in this way. In the same voyage, near twenty 
jumped overboard out of the Enterprise, Capt. Wilson, and several from a 
large Frenchman in Bonny River. In his first voyage he saw at Bonny, on 
board the Emilia, a woman chained to the deck, who, the chief mate said, was 
mad. On his second voyage, there was a woman on board his own ship, whom 
they were forced to chain at certain times. In a lucid interval she was sold at 
Jamaica. He ascribes this insanity to their being torn from their connections 
and country. 

Doctor Trotter, examined on the same subject, says that the man sold with 


his family for witchcraft, (of which he had been accused, out of reveuge, by a 
Cabosheer,) refused all sustenance after he came on board. Early next morn 
ing it was found he had attempted to cut his throat. Dr. Trotter sewed up 
the wound, but the following night the man had not only torn out the sutures, 
but had made a similar attempt on the other side. From the ragged edges oi 
the wound, and the blood upon his finger ends, it appeared to have been done 
with his nails, for though strict search was made through all the rooms, no in 
strument was found. He declared he never would go with white men, uttered 
incoherent sentences, and looked wishfully at the skies. His hands were se 
cured, but persisting to refuse all sustenance, he died of hunger in eight or tea 
days. He remembers also an instance of a woman who perished from refusing 
food : she was repeatedly flogged, and victuals forced into her mouth, but no 
means could make her swallow it, and she lived for the four last days in a state 
of torpid insensibility. A man jumped overboard, at Anamaboe, and was 
drowned. Another also, on the Middle Passage, but he was taken up. A 
woman also, after having been taken up, was chained for some time to the mizen- 
inast, but being let loose again made a second attempt, was again taken up, and 
expired under the floggings given her in consequence. 

Mr. Wilson, speaking also on the same subject, relates, among many cases 
where force was necessary to oblige the slaves to take food, that of a young 
man. He had not been long on board before he perceived him get thin. On 
inquiry, he found the man had not taken his food, and refused taking any. 
Mild means were then used to divert him from his resolution, as well as prom 
ises that he should have any thing he wished for : but still he refused to eat. 
They then whipped him with the cat, but this also was ineffectual. He always 
kept his teeth so fast, that it was impossible to get any thing down. They 
then endeavored to introduce a speculum oris between them ; but the points 
were too obtuse to enter, and next tried a bolus knife, but with the same effect. 
In this state he was for four or five days, when he was brought up as dead, lo 
be thrown overboard ; but Mr. Wilson finding life still existing, repeated his 
endeavors, though in vain, and two days afterwards he was brought up again 
in the same state as before. He then seemed to wish to get up. The crew 
assisted him, and brought him aft to the fire-place, when, in a feeble voice, in 
his own tongue, he asked for water, which was given him. Upon this they 
began to have hopes of dissuading him from his design, but he again shut his 
teeth as fast as ever, and resolved to die, and on the ninth day from the first 
refusal he died. 

Mr. Wilson says it hurt his feelings much to be obliged to use the cat so 
frequently to force them to take their food. In the very act of chastise 
ment, they have looked up at him with a smile, and in their own language 
have said, "presently we shall be no more." 

In the same ship a woman found means to convey below the night preceding 
some rope-yarn, which she tied to the head of the armorer's vise, then in the 
women's room. She fastened it round her neck, and in the morning was found 
dead, with her head lying on her shoulder, whence it appeared, she must have 


"* X . 

used great exertions to accomplish her end. A young woman also hanged her 
self, by tying rope-yarns to a batten, near her usual sleeping-place, and then 
slipping off the platform. The next morning she was found warm, and he 
used the proper means for her recovery, but in vain. 

In the same ship also, when off Annabona, a slave on the sick list jumped 
overboard, and was picked up by the natives, but died soon afterwards. At 
another time, when at sea, the captain and officers, when at dinner, heard the 
alarm of a slave's being overboard, and found it true, for they perceived him 
making every exertion to drown himself. He put his head under water, bu: 
lifted his hands up ; and thus went down, as if exulting that he had got away. 

Besides the above instance, a man slave who came on board apparently well, 
became afterwards mad, and at length died insane. 

Mr. Claxton, the fourth surgeon examined on these points, declares the 
steerage and boys' room to have been insufficient to receive the sick ; they 
were therefore obliged to place together those that were and those that were 
not diseased, and in consequence the disease and mortality spread more and 
more. The captain treated them with more tenderness than he has heard was 
usual, but the men were not humane. Some of the most diseased were obliged 
to keep on deck with a sail spread for them to lie on. This, in a little time, 
became nearly covered with blood and mucus, which involuntarily issued from 
them, and therefore the sailors, who had the disagreeable task of cleaning the 
sail, grew angry with the slaves, and used to beat them inhumanly with their 
hands, or with a cat. The slaves in consequence grew fearful of committing 
this involuntary action, and when they perceived they had done it would im 
mediately creep to the tubs, and there sit straining with such violence, as to 
produce a prolapsus ani, which could not be cured. 

Some of the slaves on board the same ship, says Mr. Claxton, had such 
an aversion to leaving their native places, that they threw themselves over 
board, on an idea that they should get back to their own country. The cap 
tain, in order to obviate this idea, thought of an expedient, viz : to cut off the 
heads of those who died, intimating to them, that if determined to go, they 
must return without their heads. The slaves were accordingly brought up to 
witness the operation. One of them seeing, when on deck, the carpenter 
standing with his hatchet up ready to strike off the head of a dead slave, with 
a violent exertion got loose, and flying to the place where the nettings had 
been unloosed, in order to empty the tubs, he darted overboard. The ship 
brought to, and a man was placed in the main chains to catch him, which he 
perceiving, dived under water, and rising again at a distance from the ship, 
made signs, which words cannot describe, expressive of his happiness in escap 
ing. He then went down, and was seen no more. This circumstance deterred 
the captain from trying the expedient any more, and therefore he resolved for 
the future (as he saw they were determined to throw themselves overboard) to 
keep a strict watch ; notwithstanding which, some afterwards contrived to un 
loose the lashing, so that two actually threw themselves into the sea, and were 
lost ; another was caught when about three parts overboard. 


All the above incidents, described as to have happened on the Middle Pas 
sage, are amply corroborated by the other witnesses. The slaves lie on the 
bare boards, says surgeon Wilson. They are frequently bruised, and the prom 
inent parts of the body excoriated, adds the same gentleman, as also Trotter 
and Newton. They have been seen by Morley wallowing in their blood and 
excrement. Claxton, Ellison, and Hall describe them as refusing sustenance, 
and compelled to eat by the whip. Morley has seen the pannekin dashed 
against their teeth, and the rice held in their mouths, to make them swallow it, 
till they were almost strangled, and they have even been thumb-screwed * with 
this view in the ships of Towne and Millar. The man stolen at Galenas river, 
says the former, also refused to eat, and persisted till he died. A woman, says 
the latter, who was brought on board, refused sustenance, neither would she 
speak. She was then ordered the thumb-screws, suspended in the mizzen rig 
ging, and every attempt was made with the cat to compel her to eat, but to no 
purpose. She died in three or four days afterwards. Mr. Millar was told that 
she had said, the night before she died, " She was going to her friends." 

As a third specific instance, in another vessel, may be mentioned that related 
by Mr. Isaac Parker. There was a child, says he, on board, nine months old, 
which refused to eat, for which the captain took it up in his hand, and flogged 
it with a cat, saying, at the same time, " Damn you, I '11 make you eat, or I '11 
kill you." The same child having swelled feet, the captain ordered them to 
be put into water, though the ship's cook told him it was too hot. This brought 
off the skin and nails. He then ordered sweet oil and cloths, which Isaac Par 
ker himself applied to the feet ; and as the child at mess time again refused to 
eat, the captain again took it up and flogged it, and tied a log of mango-wood 
eighteen or twenty inches long, and of twelve or thirteen pounds weight, round 
its neck, as a punishment. He repeated the flogging for four days together at 
mess time. The last time after flogging it, he let it drop out of his hand, with 
the same expression as before, and accordingly in about three quarters of an 
hour the child died. He then called its mother to heave it overboard, and beat 
her for refusing. He however forced her to take it up, and go to the ship's 
side, where, holding her head on one side, to avoid the sight, she dropped 
her child overboard, after which she cried for many hours. 

Besides instances of slaves refusing to eat, with the view of destroying them 
selves, and dying in consequence of it, those of their going mad are confirmed 
by Towue, and of their jumping overboard, or attempting to do it, by Towne, 
Millar, Ellison, and Hall. 

Other incidents on the passage, mentioned by some of the witnesses in their 
examination, may be divided into three kinds : 

The first kind consists of insurrections on the part of the slaves. Some of 
these frequently attempted to rise, but were prevented, (Wilson, Towne, Trot- 

* To show the severity of this punishment, Mr. Dove says, that while two slaves were 
under the torture of the thumb-screws, the sweat ran down their faces, and they trem 
bled as under a violent ague fit; and Mr. Ellison has known instances of their dying, a 
mortification having taken place in their thumbs in consequence of these screws. 


ter, Newton, Dalrymple, Ellison,) others rose, but were quelled, (Ellison, Xc\v- 
ton, Falconbridge,) and others rose and succeeded, killing almost all the whites: 
(Falconbridge and Towne.) Mr. Towne says that, inquiring of the slaves into 
the cause of these insurrections, he has been asked what business he had to 
carry them from their country. They had wives and children, whom they wanted 
to be with. After an insurrection, Mr. Ellison says he has seen them flogged, 
and the cook's tormentors and tongs heated to burn their flesh. Mr. Newto'u 
also adds that it is usual for captains, after insurrections and plots happen, to 
flog the slaves. Some captains, on board whose ships he has been, added tne 
thumb-screw, and one in particular told him repeatedly that he had put slaves 
to death, after an insurrection, by various modes of torture. 

The second sort of incident on the passage is mentioned by Mr. Falconbridge 
in the instance of an English vessel blowing up off Galenas, and most of the 
men-slaves, entangled in their irons, perishing. 

The third sort is described by Mr. Hercules Ross as follows. One instance, 
says he, marked with peculiar circumstances of horror, occurs : About twenty 
years ago, a ship from Africa, with about four hundred slaves on board, struck 
upon some shoals, called the Morant Keys, distant eleven leagues, S.S.E. off 
the east end of Jamaica. The officers and seamen of the ship landed in their 
boats, carrying with them arms and provisions. The slaves were left on board 
in their irons and shackles. This happened in the night time. The Morant 
Keys consist of three small sandy islands, and he understood that the ship had 
struck upon the shoals, at about half a league to windward of them. When 
morning came, it was discovered that the negroes had got out of their irons, 
and were busy making rafts, upon which they placed the women and children, 
whilst the men, and others capable of swimming, attended upon the rafts, while 
they drifted before the wind towards the island where the seamen had landed. 
From an apprehension that the negroes would consume the water and provis 
ions which the seamen had landed, they came to the resolution of destroying 
them by means of their fire-arms and other weapons. As the poor wretches 
approached the shore, they actually destroyed between three and four hun 
dred of them. Out of the whole cargo, only thirty-three or thirty-four were 
saved, and brought to Kingston, where Mr. Ross saw them sold at public vcu- 
due. The ship, to the best of his recollection, was consigned to a Mr. Hugh 
Wallace, of the parish of St. Elizabeth's. Mr. Ross says, in extenuation of 
this massacre, that the crew were probably drunk, or they would not have acted 
so, but he does not know it to have been the case. 

When the ships arrive at their destined ports, the slaves are exposed to sale. 
They are sold either by scramble, by public auction, or by lots. The sale by 
scramble is thus described by Mr. Falconbridge : " In the Emilia, at Jamaica, 
the ship was darkened with sails, and covered around. The men-slaves were 
placed on the main deck, and the women on the quarter deck. The purchasers 
on shore were informed that a gun would be fired when they were ready to open 
the sale. A great number of people came on board with tallies or cards in 
their hands, with their own names on them, and rushed through the barricade 


door with the ferocity of brutes. Some had three or four handkerchiefs tied 
together, to encircle as many as they thought fit for their purpose. In the yard 
at Grenada, he adds, (where another of his ships, the Alexander, sold by scram 
ble,) the women were so terrified, that several of them got out of the yard, and 
ran about St. George's town as if they were mad. In his second voyage, while 
lying at Kingston, he saw a sale by scramble on board the Tryal, Captain Mac- 
donald. Forty or fifty of the slaves leaped into the sea, all of whom, how 
ever, were taken up again." This was a very general mode of sale. Mr. Bail- 
lie says it was the common mode in America where he has been. Mr. Fitz- 
maurice has been at twenty sales by scramble in Jamaica. Mr. Clappesou 
never saw any other mode of sale during his residence there, and it is men 
tioned as having been practiced under the inspection of Morley and of Trotter. 

The slaves sold by public auction are generally the refuse, or sickly slaves. 
These were in such a state of health that they sold, says Baillie, greatly under 
price. Falconbridge has known them sold for five dollars each, Town for a 
guinea, and Mr. Hercules Ross as low as a single dollar. 

The state of such is described to be very deplorable by General Tottenham 
and Mr. Hercules Ross. The former says that he once observed at Barbadoes 
a number of slaves that had been landed from a ship. They were brought 
into the yard adjoining the place of sale. Those that were not very ill were 
put into little huts, and those that were worse were left in the yard to die, 
for nobody gave them any thing to eat or drink ; and some of them lived 
three days in that situation. The latter has frequently seen the very refuse 
(as they are termed) of the slaves of Guinea ships landed and carried to the 
vendue-masters in a very wretched state ; sometimes in the agonies of death ; 
and he has known instances of their expiring in the piazza of the auctioneer. 

Mr. Newton says, that in none of the sales he saw was there any care ever 
taken to prevent such slaves as were relations from being separated. They 
were separated as sheep and lambs by the butcher. This separation of rela 
tions and friends is confirmed by Davison, Trotter, Clapperson, and Towne. 
Fitzmaurice also mentions the same, with an exception only to infants ; but 
Mr. Falconbridge says that one of his captains (Frazer) recommended it to 
the planters never to separate relations and friends. He says he once heard 
of a person refusing to purchase a man's wife, and was next day informed the 
man had hanged himself. 

With respect to the mortality of slaves in the passage, Mr. Falconbridge 
says, that in three voyages he purchased 1,100, and lost 191 ; Trotter, in one 
voyage, about 600, and lost about 70 ; Millar, in one voyage, 490, and lost 
180 ; Ellison, in three voyages, where he recollects the mortality, bought 895, 
and lost 356. In one of these voyages, says the latter, the slaves had the 
small-pox. In this case he has seen the platform one continued scab ; eight 
or ten of them were hauled up dead in a morning, and the flesh and skin peeled 
off their wrists when taken hold of. 

Mr. Morley says that in four voyages he purchased about 1,325, and lost 
about 313. Mr. Towne, in two voyages, 630, and lost 115. Mr. Claxton, in 


one voyage, 250, and lost 132. In this voyage, he says, they were so straighten 
ed for provisions, that if they had been ten more days at sea, they must either 
have eaten the slaves that died, or have made the living slaves walk the plank, 
a term used among Guinea captains for making the slaves throw themselves 
overboard. He says, also, that he fell in with the Hero, Captain Withers, 
which had lost 360 slaves, or more than half her cargo, by the small-pox 
The surgeon of the Hero told him that when the slaves were removed from 
one place to another, they left marks of their skin and blood upon the deck, and 
it was the most horrid sight he had ever seen. 

Mr. Wilson states that in his ship and three others belonging to the same 
concern, they purchased among them 2064 slaves, and lost 586. He adds, that 
he fell in with the Hero, Captain Withers, at St. Thomas', which had lost 159 
slaves by the small-pox. Captain Hall, in two voyages, purchased 550, and 
lost 110. He adds, that he has known some ships in the slave-trade bury a 
quarter, some a third, and others half of their cargo. It is very uncommon 
to find ships without some loss * in their slaves. 

Besides those which die on the passage, it must be noticed here that several 
die soon after they are sold. Sixteen, says Mr. Falconbridge, were sold by 
auction out of the Alexander, all of whom died before the ship left the West 
Indies. Out of fourteen, says Mr. Claxton, sold from his ship in an infections 
state, only four lived ; and though in the four voyages mentioned by Mr. Wil 
son, no less than 586 perished on the passage out of 2,064, yet 220 addition 
ally died of the small-pox in a very little time after their delivery in the river 
Plate, making the total loss for those ships not less than 836, out of 2,064. 

The causes of the disorders which carry off the slaves in such numbers, are 
ascribed by Mr. Falconbridge to a diseased mind, sudden transitions from heat 
to cold, a putrid atmosphere, wallowing in their own excrements, and being 
shackled together. A diseased mind, he says, is undoubtedly one of the causes ; 
for many of the slaves on board refused medicines, giving as a reason, that 
they wanted to die, and could never be cured. Some few, on the other hand, 
who did not appear to think so much of their situation, recovered. That 
shackling together is also another cause, was evident from the circumstance of 
the men dying in twice the proportion the women did ; and so long as the 
trade continues, he adds, they must be shackled together, for no man will at 
tempt to carry them out of irons. 

Surgeon Wilson, examined on the same topic, speaks nearly in the same 
manner. He says that of the death of two-thirds of those who died in his 
ship, the primary cause was melancholy. This was evident, not only from the 
symptoms of the disorder, and the circumstance that no one who had it was 
ever cured, whereas those who had it not, and yet were ill, recovered ; but 
from the language of the slaves themselves, who declared that they wished to 
die, as also from Captain Smith's own declaration, who said their deaths were 

* Total purchased, 7,904, lost, 2,053, exclusive of the Hero, being above one-fourth 
of the number purchased. The reader will observe that Mr. Claxton fell iii with th 
Hero on one voyage, and Mr. Wilson on another. 


to be ascribed to their thinking so much of their situation. Though several 
died of the flux, he attributes their death, primarily, to the cause before assign 
ed ; for, says he, their original disorder was a fixed melancholy, and the symp 
toms, lowness of spirits and despondency. Hence they refused food. This 
only increased the symptoms. 

Mr. Towne, the only other person who speaks of the causes of the disorders 
of the slaves, says "they often fall sick, sometimes owing to their crowded 
state, but mostly to grief for being carried away from their country and friends." 
This he knows from inquiring frequently (which he was enabled to do by 
understanding their language) into the circumstances of their grievous com 

We make some further extracts from the evidence, to exhibit the disastrous 
and fatal effects of the trade upon the seamen engaged in it. Such was the 
despotic character of the discipline on board of the slave-ships, and such the 
insensibility to suffering acquired by the officers, that the condition of the sea 
men was not much better than that of the slaves. To exhibit the mortality 
among the seamen on board these infected ships, a report was made to the 
House of Commons, giving an abstract of the muster-rolls of such Liverpool and 
Bristol ships as were returned to the custom houses from September, 1784, to 
January, 1790. During this period, it appears that in 350 vessels, 12,263 sea 
men were employed ; of these, only 5,760 returned home of the original crews ; 
of the remaining 6,503, there had died, before the vessels arrived in the West 
Indies, 2,643. The fate of the 3,860, not accounted for in the muster-rolls, 
we gather from the witnesses. 

The crews of the African slavers, says Captain Hall, when they arrive in 
the West Indies, are generally (he does not know a single instance to the con 
trary) in a sickly, debilitated state, and the seamen, who are discharged or 
desert from those ships in the West Indies, are the most miserable objects he 
ever met with in any country in his life. He has frequently seen them with 
their toes rotted off, their legs swelled to the size of their thighs, and in an 
ulcerated state all over. He has seen them on the different wharves in the 
islands of Antigua, Barbadoes, and Jamaica, particularly at the two last 
islands. He has also seen them laying under the cranes and balconies of the 
houses near the water-side in Barbadoes and Jamaica expiring, and some quite 

To confirm the assertion of Captain Hall, of the merchant service, that the 
>rews of Guinea-men generally arrive at their destined ports of sale in a sickly, 
debilitated state, we may refer to Captain Hall, of the navy, who asserts that 
in taking men (while in the West Indies) out of merchant ships for the king's 
service, he has, in taking a part of the crew of a Guinea ship, whose number 
then consisted of seventy, been able to select but thirty, who could have been 
thought capable of serving on board any ships of war, and when those thirty 
were surveyed by order of the admiral, he was reprimanded for bringing Kiel) 
men into the service, who were more likely to breed distemper than to be of 
any use, and this at a time when seamen were so much wanted, that almost 


any thing would have been taken. He adds also that this was not a singular 
instance, but that it was generally the case ; for he had many opportunities 
between the years 1769 and 1773 of seeing the great distresses of crews of 
Guinea ships, when they arrived in the West Indies. 

We may refer also to Captain Smith, of the navy, who asserts that though 
he may have boarded near twenty of these vessels in the West Indies, for the 
purpose of impressing men, he was never able to get more than two men. 
The principal reason was the fear of infection, having seen many of them in a 
very disordered and ulcerated state. 

The assertion also of Captain Hall, of the merchant service, relative to 
their situation after their arrival at their destined ports of sale, is confirmed 
by the rest of the witnesses in the minutest manner ; for the seamen belonging 
to the slave- vessels are described as lying about the wharves and cranes, or 
wandering about the streets or islands full of sores and ulcers. It is asserted 
by the witnesses, that they never saw any other than Guinea seamen in that 
state in the West Indies. The epithets also of sickly, emaciated, abject, de 
plorable objects, are applied to them. They are mentioned again as desti 
tute, and starving, and without the means of support, no merchantmen taking 
them in because they are unable to work, and men-of-war refusing them for 
fear of infection. Many of them are also described as lying about in a 
dying state ; and others have been actually found dead, and negroes have 
been seen carrying the bodies of others to be interred. 

It may be remarked here, that this diseased and forlorn state of the seamen 
was so inseparable from the slave-trade, that the different witnesses had not only 
seen it at Jamaica, Antigua, and Barbadoes, the places mentioned by Captain 
Hall, but wherever they have seen Guinea-men arrive, namely, at St. Vincents, 
Grenada, Dominique, and in North America also. 

The reasons why such immense numbers were left behind in the West Indies, 
as were found in this deplorable state, are the following : The seamen leave 
their ships from ill usage, says Ellison. It is usual for captains, say Clappe- 
son and Young, to treat them ill, that they may desert and forfeit their wages. 
Three others state they were left behind purposely by their captains ; and Mr. 
H. Rose adds, in these emphatical words, " that it was no uncommon thing for 
the captains to send on shore, a few hours before they sail, their lame, emaci 
ated, and sick seamen, leaving them to perish. 

That the seamen employed in the slave-trade were worse fed, both in point 
of quantity and quality of provisions, than the seamen in other trades, was 
allowed by most of the witnesses, and that they had little or no shelter night 
or day from the inclemency of the weather, during the whole of the Middle 
Passage, was acknowledged by them all. With respect to their personal ill 
usage, the following extracts may suffice : 

Mr. Morley asserts that the seamen in all the Guinea-men he sailed in, 
except one, were generally treated with great rigor, and many with cruelty. 
He recollects many instances : Mathews, the chief mate of the Venus, Captain 
Forbes, would knock a man down for any frivolous thing with a cat, a piece of 


*" ' ' f '' W'sit' ', ttLi iL-ltii i"^* ' ' ' "' >; "V. t ; ' "'' i '' 

wood, or a cook's axe, with which he once cut a man down the shoulder, by 
throwing it at him in a passion. Captain Dixon, likewise, in the Amelia, tied 
up the men, and gave them four or five dozen lashes at a time, and then 
rubbed them with pickle. Mr. Morley also himself, when he was Dixon's 
cabin-boy, for accidentally breaking a glass, was tied to the tiller by the hands, 
flogged with a cat, and kept hanging for some time. Mr. Morley has seen the 
seamen lie and die upon the deck. They are generally, he says, treated ill 
when sick. He has known men ask to have their wounds or ulcers dressed ; 
and has heard the doctor, with oaths, refuse to dress them. 

Mr. Ellison also, in describing the treatment in the Briton, says there was a 
boy on board, whom Wilson, the chief mate, was always beating. One morn 
ing, in the passage out, he had not got the tea-kettle boiled in time for his 
breakfast, upon which, when it was brought, Wilson told him he would severely 
flog him after breakfast. The boy, for fear of this, went into the lee fore 
chains. When Wilson came from the cabin, and called for Paddy, (the name 
he went by, being an Irish boy,) he would not come, but remained in the fore 
chains ; on which Wilson going forward, and attempting to haul him in, the 
boy jumped overboard, and was drowned. 

Another time on the Middle Passage, the same Wilson ordered one James 
Allison (a man he had been continually beating for trifles) to go into the 
women's room to scrape it. Allison said he was not able, for he was very 
unwell ; upon which Wilson obliged him to go down. Observing, however, 
that the man did not work, he asked him the reason, and was answered as 
before, " that he was not able." Upon this, Wilson threw a handspike at him, 
which struck him on the breast, and he dropped down to appearance dead. 
Allison recovered afterwards a little, but died the next day. 

Mr. Ellison relates other instances of ill-usage on board his own ship, and 
with respect to instances in others, he says, that in all slave ships they are most 
commonly beaten and knocked about for nothing. He recollects that on board 
the Phoenix, a Bristol ship, while lying on the coast, the boatswain and five of 
the crew made their escape in the yawl, but were taken up by the natives. 
When Captain Bishop heard it, he ordered them to be kept on shore at Forje, 
a small town at the mouth of Calabar River, chained by the necks, legs, and 
hands, and to have each a plantain a day only. The boatswain, whose name 
was Tom Jones, and an old shipmate of his, and a very good seaman, died 
raving mad in his chains there. The other five died in their chains also. 

Mr. Towne, in speaking of the treatment on board the Peggy, Captain 
Davison, says that their chests were brought upon deck, and staved and burnt, 
and themselves turned out from lying below ; and if any murmurs were heard 
among them, they were inhumanly beaten with any thing that came in the way, 
or flogged, both legs put in irons, and chained abaft to the pumps, and there 
made to work points and gaskets, during the captain's pleasure ; and very 
often beat just as the captain thought proper. He himself has often seen the 
captain as he has walked by, kick them repeatedly, and if they have said any 
thing that he might deem offensive, he has immediately called for a stick to 


beat them with; they at the same time, having both legs in irons, an iron col 
lar about their necks, and a chain ; and when on the coast of Guinea, if not 
released before their arrival there from their confinement, they were put into 
the boats, and made to row backwards and forwards, either with the captain 
from ship to ship, or on any other duty, still both legs in irons, an iron collar 
about their necks, with a chain locked to the boat, and taken out when no other 
duty was required of them at night, and locked fast upon the open deck, ex 
posed to the heavy rains and dews, without any thing to lie upon, or any thing 
to cover them. This was a practice on board the Peggy. 

He says, also, that similar treatment prevailed on board the Sally, another 
ship in which he sailed. One of the seamen had both legs in irons, and a col 
lar about his neck, and was chained to the boat for three months, and very often 
inhumanly beaten for complaining of his situation, both by the captain and 
other officers. At last he became so weak that he could not sit upon the 
thwart or seat of the boat to row, or do anything else. They then put him 
out of the boat, and made him pick oakum on board the ship, with only three 
pounds of bread a week, and half a pound of salt beef per day. He remain 
ed in that situation, with both his legs in irons, but the latter part of the time 
without a collar. One evening he came aft, during the middle passage, to beg 
something to eat, or he should die. The captain on this inhumanly beat him, 
and used a great number of reproaches, and ordered him to go forward, and 
die and be damned. The man died in the night. The ill treatment on board 
the Sally was general. 

As another particular instance, a landsman, one Edw. Hilton, was in the boat 
watering, and complained of his being long in the boat without meat or drink. 
The boatswain, being the officer, beat him with the boat's tiller, having nothing 
else, and cut his head in several places, so that when he came on board he was 
all over blood. Mr. Towne asked him the reason of it. Hilton began to tell 
him, but before he could properly tell the story, the mate came forward, (by 
order of the captain) the surgeon and the boatswain, and all of them together 
fell to beating him with their canes. The surgeon struck him on the side of 
his eye, so that it afterwards mortified, and was lost. He immediately had both 
his legs put in irons, after he had been so beat that he could not stand. The 
next morning he was put into the boat on the same duty as before, still remain 
ing with both legs in irons, and locked with a chain to the boat, until such 
time as he became so weak that he was not able to remain any longer there. 
He was then put on board the ship, and laid forwards, still in irons, very ill. 
His allowance was immediately stopped, as it was the surgeon's opinion it was 
the only method of curing any one of them who complained of illness. He 
remained in that situation, after being taken out of the boat, for some weeks 
after. During this time, Mr. Towne was obliged to go to Junk River, and 
on his return he inquired for Hilton, and was told that he was lying before the 
foremast, almost dead. He went and spoke to him, but Hilton seemed insen 
sible. The same day Mr. Towne received his orders to go a second time in 
the shallop to Junk River. After he had gotten under weigh, the commander 


of the shallop was ordered to bring to, and take Hilton in, and leave him on 
Bhore any where. He lived that evening and night out, and died early the 
next morning, and was thrown overboard off Cape Mesurado. 

Mr. Falconbridge, being called upon also to speak to the ill usage of sea 
men, said that on board the Alexander, Captain M'Taggart, he has seen them 
tied up and flogged with the cat frequently. He remembers also an instance 
of an old man, who was boatswain of the Alexander, having one night some 
words with the mate, when the boatswain was severely beaten, and had one or 
two of his teeth knocked out. The boatswain said he would jump overboard; 
upon whicli he was tied to the rail of the quarter-deck, and a pump-bolt put 
into his mouth by way of gagging him. He was then untied, put under the 
half- deck, and a sentinel put over him all night in the morning he was re 
leased. Mr. Falconbridge always considered him as a quiet, inoffensive man. 
In the same voyage a black boy was beaten every day, and one day, after he 
was so beaten, he jumped through one of the gun-ports of the cabin into the 
river. A canoe was lying alongside, which dropped astern and picked him up. 
Mr. Falconbridge gave him one of his own shirts to put on, and asked him if 
he did not expect to be devoured by the sharks. The boy said he did, and 
that it would be much better for him to be killed at once, than to be daily 
treated with so much cruelty. 

Mr. Falconbridge remembers also, on board the same ship, that the black 
cook one day broke a plate. For this he had a fish-gig darted at him, which 
would certainly have destroyed him if he had not stooped or dropped down. 
At another time also, the carpenter's mate had let his pitch-pot catch fire. 
He and the cook were accordingly both tied up, stripped and flogged, but the 
cook with the greatest severity. After that the cook had salt water and cay 
enne pepper rubbed upon his back. A man also came on board at Bonny, 
belonging to a little ship, (Mr. Falconbridge believes the captain's name was 
Dodson, of Liverpool,) which had been overset at New Calabar. This man, 
when he came on board, was in a convalescent state. He was severely beaten 
one night, but for what cause Mr. Falconbridge knows not, upon which he 
came to Mr. Falconbridge for something to rub his back with. Mr. Falcon- 
bridge was told by the captain not to give him any thing, and the man was 
desired to go forward. He went accordingly, and lay under the forecastle. 
Mr. Falconbridge visited him very often, at which times he complained of his 
bruises. He died in about three weeks from the time he was beaten. The 
last words he ever spoke were, after shedding tears, "I cannot punish him," 
meaning the captain, "but God will." These are the most remarkable in 
stances which Mr. Falconbridge recollects. He says, however, that the ill 
treatment was so general, that only three in this ship escaped being beaten out 
of fifty persons. 

To these instances, which fell under the eyes of the witnesses now cited, we 
may add the observations of a gentleman who, though never in the slave-trade, 
had yet great opportunities of obtaining information upon this subject, Sir 
George Young remarks, that those seamen whom he saw in the slave-trade, 


while on the coast in a man-of-war, complained of their ill treatment, bad feed 
ing, and cruel usage. They all wanted to enter on board his ship. It was like 
wise the custom for the seamen of every ship he saw at a distance, to come on 
board him with their boats ; most of them quite naked, and threatening to turn 
pirates if he did not take them. This they told him openly. He is persuaded, 
if he had given them encouragement, and had had a ship-of-the-line to have 
manned, he could have done it in a very short time, for they would all have left 
their ships. He has also received several seamen on board his ship from the 
woods, where they had no subsistence, but to which they had fled for refuge 
from their respective vessels. 

That the above are not the only instances of barbarity contained in the evi 
dence, and that this barbarous usage was peculiar to, or springing out of the 
very nature of the trade in slaves, may be insisted on the following accounts : 

Captain Thompson concludes from the many complaints he received from 
seamen, while on the coast, that they are far from being well treated on board 
the slave-ships. One Bowden swam from the Fisher, of Liverpool, Captain 
Kendal, to the Nautilus, amidst a number of sharks, to claim his protection. 
Kendal wrote for the man, who refused to return, saying his life would be en 
dangered. He therefore kept him in the Nautilus till she was paid off, and 
found him a diligent, willing, active seaman. Several of the crew, he thinks, 
of the Brothers, of Liverpool, Captain Clark, swam towards the Nautilus, 
when passing by. Two only reached her. The rest, he believes, regained 
their own ship. The majority of the crew had the day before come on board 
the Nautilus, in a boat, to complain of ill usage, but he had returned them 
with an officer to inquire into and redress their complaints. He received many 
letters from seamen in slave-ships, complaining of ill usage, and desiring him 
to protect them, or take them on board. He is inclined to think that ships 
trading in the produce of Africa, are not so ill used as those in the slave-ships. 
Several of his own officers gave him the best accounts of the treatment in the 
Iris, a vessel trading for wood, gums, and ivory, near which the Nautilus lay 
for some weeks. 

Lieutenant Simpson says that on his first voyage, when lying at Fort Appo- 
lonia, the Fly Guineaman was in the roads. On the return of the Adventure's 
boat from the fort, they were hailed by some seamen belonging to the Fly, re 
questing that they might be taken from on board the Guiueaman, and put on 
board the man-of-war, for that their treatment was such as to make their lives 
miserable. The boat, by the direction of Captain Parry, was sent to the Fly, 
and one or two men were brought on board him. In his second voyage, he re 
collects that on first seeing the Albion Guineaman, she carried a press of sail, 
seemingly to avoid them, but finding it impracticable, she spoke them ; the day 
after which the captain of the Albion brought a seaman on board the Adven 
ture, whom he wished to be left there, complaining that he was a very riotous 
and disorderly man. The man, on the contrary, proved very peaceable and 
well-behaved, nor was there one single instance of his conduct from which he 
could suppose he merited the character given him. He seemed to rejoice at 


quitting the Albion, and informed Mr. Simpson that he was cruelly beaten both 
by the captain and surgeon ; that he was half starved ; and that the surgeon 
neglected the sick seamen, alleging that he was only paid for attending the 
slaves. He also informed Mr. Simpson that their allowance of provisions was 
increased, and their treatment somewhat better when a man-of-war was on the 
coast. He recollects another instance of a seaman, with a leg shockingly ul 
cerated, requesting a passage in the Adventure to England ; alleging that he 
was left behind from a Guineaman. He alleged various instances of ill treat 
ment he had received, and confirmed the account of the sailor of the Albion, 
that their allowonce of provisions was increased, and treatment better, when a 
man-of-war was on the coast. During Mr. Simpson's stay at Cape Coast Cas 
tle, the Adventure's boat was sent to Annamaboe to the Spy Guineaman ; on 
her return, three men were concealed under her sails, who had left the slave- 
ship ; they complained that their treatment was so bad that their lives were 
miserable on board beaten and half starved. There were various other in 
stances which escaped his memory. Mr. Simpson says, however, that he has 
never heard any complaints from West Indiamen, or other merchant ships ; on 
the contrary, they wished to avoid a man-of-war ; whereas, if the captain of the 
Adventure had listened to all the complaints made to him from sailors of slave- 
ships, and removed them, he must have greatly distressed the African trade. 

Captain Hall, of the navy, speaking on the same subject, asserts that as to 
peculiar modes of punishment adopted in Guinearnen, he once saw a man 
chained by the neck in the main top of a slave-ship, when passing under the 
stern of His Majesty's ship Crescent, in Kingston-Bay, St. Vincent's ; and was 
told by part of the crew, taken out of the ship, at their own request, that the 
man had been there one hundred and twenty days. He says he has great rea 
son to believe that in no trade are seamen so badly treated as in the slave- 
trade, from their always flying to men-of-war for redress, and whenever they 
came within reach ; whereas men from West Indian or other trades seldom ap 
ply to a ship-of-war. 

The last witness it will be necessary to cite is the Rev. Mr. Newton. This 
gentleman agrees in the ill usage of the seamen alluded to, and believes that 
the slave-trade itself is a great cause of it, for he thinks that the real or sup 
posed necessity of treating the negroes with rigor gradually brings a numbness 
upon the heart, and renders most of those who are engaged in it too indiffer 
ent to the sufferings of their fellow-creatures. If it should be asked how it 
happened that seamen entered for slave- vessels, when such general ill usage 
there could hardly fail of being known, the reply must be taken from the evi 
dence, "that whereas some of them enter voluntarily, the greater part of them 
are trepanned, for that it is the business of certain landlords to make them in 
toxicated, and get them into debt, after which their only alternative is a Guin 
eaman or a gaol." 




Abstract of Evidence continued. Slavery in the West Indies from 1750 to 1790. Gen 
eral estimation and treatment of the Slaves. Labor of Plantation Slaves their days 
of rest, food, clothing, property. Ordinary pnnishment by the whip and cowskin. 
Frequency and severity of these Punishments. Extraordinary Punishments of vari 
ous kinds, for nominal offenses. Capital offenses and Punishments. Slaves turned 
off to steal, beg, or starve, when incapable of labor. Slaves had little or no redress 
against ill usage. 

HE natives of Africa, when bought by European colonists, are generally 
esteemed, says Dr. Jackson, a species of inferior beings, whom the right of 
purchase gives the owner a power of using at his will. Consistently with this 
definition, we find the evidence asserting, with one voice, that they "have no 
legal protection against their masters," and of course, that "their treatment 
varies according to the disposition of their masters." If their masters be good 
men, says the Dean of Middleham, they are well off, but if not, they suffer. 
The general treatment, however, is described to be very severe. Some speak 
more moderately than others upon it, but all concur in the general usage as 
being bad. Mr. Woolrich, examined on this point, says that he never knew 
the best master in the West Indies use his slaves so well as the worst master 
his servants in England ; that their state is inconceivable ; that it cannot be 
described to the full understanding of those who have never seen it, and that 
a sight of some gangs would convince more than all words. Others, again, 
make use of the words, " used with great cruelty, like beasts, or worse ; " and 
the Dean of Middleham, after balancing in his mind ull his knowledge upon 
this subject, cannot say, (setting aside on one hand particular instances of 
great severity, and on the other hand particular instances of great humanity,) 
that treatment altogether humane and proper was the lot of such as he had 
either observed or heard of. 

To come to a more particular description of their treatment, it will be 
proper to divide them into different classes. The first may be said to consist 
of those who are bought for the plantation use. These are artificers of various 
descriptions, and the field slaves. The second consists of what may be termed 
in-or-out-door slaves. The former are domestics, both in town and country, 
and the latter, porters, fishermen, boatmen, and the like. 

The; field-slaves, whose case is the first to be considered, are called out by 
day-light to their work. For this purpose the shell blows, and they hurry into 
the field. If they are not there in time, they are flogged. When put to their 
work, they perform it in rows, and, without exception, under the whip of dri 
vers, a certain number of whom are allotted to each gang. By these means, 
the weak arc made to keep up with the strong. Mr. Fitzmaurice is sorry to 
say, that from this cause many of them are hurried to the grave ; as the able, 
even if placed with the weakly to bring them up, will leave them behind, and 
then the weakly are generally flogged up by the driver. This, however, is i. < 


mode of their labor. As to the time of it, they begin, as before said, at day 
light, and continue, with two intermissions, (one for half an hour in the morn 
ing, and the other for two hours at noon,) till sun-set. 

The above description, however, does not include the whole of their opera 
tions for the day, for it is expected that they shall range about and pick grass 
for the cattle. It is clear, from the different evidences, that the custom of 
grass-picking varies, as to the time in which it is to be done, on different 
estates, for on some it is to be done within the intervals of rest said to be 
allowed at noon, and on others after the labor of the day. It is complained 
of, however, in either case, as a great grievance, as it lengthens the time of 
work ; as also, because, particularly in droughts, it is very difficult to find grass 
at all, and because, if they do not bring it in sufficient quantities, they are 
punished. Grass-picking, says Captain Smith, is one of the most frequent 
causes of punishment. He has seen some flogged for not getting so great a 
quantity of it as others, and that at a time when he has thought it impossible 
they could have gotten half the quantity, having been upon the spot. 

It is impossible to pass over in silence the almost total want of indulgence 
which the women slaves frequently experience during the operations in the 
field. It is asserted by Dalrymple, that the drivers, in using their whip, never 
distinguish sex. 

The above accounts of the mode and duration of the labor of the field slaves, 
are confined to that season of the year which is termed "out of crop," or the 
time in which they are preparing the lands for the crop. In the crop season, 
however, the labor is of much longer duration. Weakly handed estates, says 
Mr. Fitzmaarice, which are far the most numerous, form their negroes in crop 
into two spells, which generally change at twelve at noon, and twelve at night. 
The boilers and others about the works, relieved at twelve at noon, cut canes 
from shell blow (half-past one) till dark', when they carry cane-tops or grass 
to the cattle pens, and then they may rest till twelve at night, when they re 
lieve the spell in the boiling-house, by which they themselves had been relieved 
at twelve in the day. On all the estates the boiling goes on night and day with 
out intermission ; but full-handed estates have three spells, and intermissions 

Mr. Dalrymple, speaking also of their labor in time of crop, says they are 
obliged to work as long as they can, which is as long as they can keep awake 
or stand on their legs. Sometimes they fall asleep, through excess of fatigue, 
when their arms are caught in the mill and torn off. He saw several who had 
lost their arms in that way. Mr. Cook states, on the same subject, that in 
crop time they work in general about eighteen hours out of the twenty-four, 
and are often hurt through mere fatigue and want of sleep. He knew a girl 
lose her hand by the mill, while feeding it, for being overcome by sleep, she 
dropped against the rollers. He has heard of several instances of this kind. 

To this account of the labor of the slaves, both in and out of crop, it ap 
pears by the evidence they have Sunday and Saturday afternoon out of crop, 
to themselves, that is, to cultivate their own grounds for their support ; on 


others, Sunday only ; and on others, Sunday only in part, for some people, 
says the Dean of Middleham, required grass for the cattle on Sundays to be 
gathered twice in the day ; and Lieutenant Davison says he has known them 
forced to work on Sundays for their masters. It appears again, that in crop, 
on no estates, have they more than Sunday for the cultivation of their lands. 
The Dean of Middleham has known them continue boiling the sugar till late 
on Saturday night, and in one instance remembers it to have been protracted 
till sun-rise on Sunday morning: and the care afterwards of setting up the 
sugar-jars must have required several hours. 

The point which may be considered next, is that of the slaves' food. 
This appears by the evidence to be subject to no rale. On some estates they 
are allowed land, which they cultivate for themselves at the times mentioned 
above, but they have no provisions allowed them, except perhaps a small pres 
ent of salt fish or beef, or salt pork, at Christmas. On others they are allowed 
provisions, but no land : on others again, they are allowed land and provisions 
jointly. Without enumerating the different rations mentioned to be allowed 
them by the different witnesses, it may be sufficient to take the highest. The 
best allowance is evidently at Barbadoes, and the following is the account of it. 
The slaves in general, says General Tottenham, appeared to be ill-fed ; each 
slave had a pint of grain for twenty-four hours, and sometimes half a rotten 
herring, when to be had. When the herrings were unfit for the whites, they 
were bought up by the planters for the slaves. Mr. Davis says that on those 
estates in Barbadoes, where he has seen the slaves' allowance dealt out, a 
grown negro had nine pints of corn, and about one pound of salt fish a week, 
but the grain of the West Indies is much lighter than wheat. He is of opin 
ion that in general they were too sparingly fed. The Dean of Middleham also 
mentions nine pints per week as the quantity given, but that he has known 
masters abridge it in the time of crop. This is the greatest allowance mentioned 
throughout the whole of the evidence, and this is one of the cases in which the 
slaves had provisions but no land. Where, on the other hand, they have land 
and no provisions, all the witnesses agree that it is quite ample for their sup 
port, but that they have not sufficient time to cultivate it. Their lands, too, 
are often at the distance of three miles from their houses, and Mr. Giles thinks 
the slaves were often so fatigued by the labor of the week, as scarcely to be 
capable of working on them on Sunday for their own use. It is also mention 
ed as a great hardship, that often when they had cleared these lands, their 
master has taken them away for canes, giving them new wood-land in their 
stead, to be cleared afresh. This circumstance, together with the removal of 
their houses, many of them have so taken to heart as to have died. 

Whether or not their food may be considered as sufficient in general for 
their support, may be better seen from the following than the preceding ac 
count. Mr. Cook says that they have not sufficient food. He has known them 
to eat the putrid carcasses of animals, and is convinced they did it through 
want. Mr. J. Terry has known them, on estates where they have been worse 
fed than on others, eat the putrid carcasses of animals also. Dead mules, 


horses, and cows, says Mr. Coor, were all burned under the inspection of a 
white man. Had they been buried, the negroes would have dug them up in 
the night to eat them through hunger. It was generally said to be done to 
prevent the negroes from eating them, lest it should breed distempers. 

On the subject of their clothing, there is the same variation as to quantity 
as in their food. It depends on the disposition and circumstances of their 
masters. The largest allowance in the evidence is that which is mentioned by 
Dr. Harrison. The men, he says, at Christmas, are allowed two frocks, and 
two pair of Osnaburgh trowsers, and the women two coats and two shifts 
apiece. Some also have two handkerchiefs for the head. They have no other 
clothes than these, except they get them by their own extra labor. Woolrich 
and Coor agree, that as far as their experience went, the masters did not ex 
pend for the clothing of their slaves more than half a crown or three shillings 
a year ; and Cook says that they are in general but very indifferently clothed, 
and that one-half of them go almost naked in the field. 

With respect to their houses and lodging, the accounts of the three follow 
ing gentlemen will suffice : 

Mr. Woolrich states their houses to be small, square huts, built with poles, 
and thatched at the top and sides with a kind of bamboo, and built by the 
slaves themselves. He describes them as lying in the middle of these huts 
before a small fire, but to have no bedding. Some, he says, obtain a board or 
mat to lie on before the fire. A few of the head-slaves have cabins of boards 
raised from the floor, but no bedding, except some, who have a coarse blanket. 
The Rev. Mr. Rees, in describing their houses nearly in the same manner, 
observes that their furniture consists of stools and benches, that they had no 
beds or bedding in the houses he was in, but that some of them slept on the 
ground, and others on a board raised from it. Some of the new slaves, says 
Dr. Harrison, have a few blankets, but it is not the general practice : for in 
general they have no bedding at all. 

Of the property of the field-slaves, the next article to be considered, the 
following testimony will give a sufficient illustration : 

Many field-slaves, says Mr. Woolrich, have it not in their power to earn 
any thing, exclusive of their master's work. Some few raise fowls, and some 
few pigs, and sell them, but their number is very few. Mr. Dalrymple docs 
not say that slaves never become possessed of much property, but he never 
knew an instance of it, nor can he conceive how they can have time for it. 
The Dean of Middle-ham observes, that the quantity of ground allowed to 
field -slaves for raising provisions does not admit of their frequently possessing 
any considerable property. It is not likely they can spare much of their pro 
duce for sale. Sometimes they possess a pig, and two or three fowls, and if 
they have also a few plantain trees, these may be the means of supplying them 
with knives, iron pots, and such other conveniences as their masters do not 
allow them. The greatest property Mr. M. Terry ever knew a field-slave to 
possess was two pigs, and a little poultry. A field-slave has not the means of 
getting much property. Mr. J. Terry has known the field-slaves so poor as 


not to be able to have poultry. They were not allowed to keep sheep on any 
estate he knew. On some they might keep two or three goats, but very few 
allowed it. Some keep pigs and poultry, if able to buy any. 

To this testimony it may be added, that all the witnesses, to whom the 
question has been proposed, agree in answering, that they never knew or heard 
of a field-slave ever amassing such a sum as enabled him to purchase his own 

With respect to the artificers, such as house-carpenters, coopers, and masons, 
and the drivers and head-slaves, who form the remaining part of the planta 
tion slaves, they are described as having in general a more certain allowance 
of provisions, and as being better off. 

Having now described the state of the plantation, it will be proper to say a 
few words on that of the in-and-out-door slaves. The in-door slaves, or do 
mestics, are allowed by all the witnesses to be better clothed and less worked 
than the others, and invariably to look better. Some, however, complain of 
their being much pinched for food. 

With respect to the out-door slaves, several persons, who have a few slaves, 
and little work, allow them to work out, and oblige them to bring home three 
or four bits a day. The situation of these is considered to be very hard, for 
they are often unable to find work, and to earn the stated sum, and yet, if they 
fail, they are severely punished. Mr. Clappeson has known them steal grass, 
and sell it, to make up the sum required. 

In this description may be ranked such as follow the occupation of porters. 
These are allowed to work out, and at the end of the week obliged to bring 
home to their masters a certain weekly sum. Their situation is much aggra 
vated by having no fixed rates. If, says Foster, on being offered too little for 
their work they remonstrate, they are often beaten, and receive nothing, and 
should they refuse the next call from the same person, they are summoned 
before a magistrate, and punished on the parade for the refusal, and he has 
known them so punished. 

Having now described the labor, food, clothing, houses, property, and differ 
ent kinds of employment of the plantation, as well as the situation of the 
in-and-out-door slaves, as far as the evidence will warrant, it may be proper to 
advert to their punishments ; and, first, to those that are inflicted by the cow- 
skin or the whip. 

In the towns many people have their slaves flogged upon their own premises, 
in which case it is performed by a man, who is paid for it, and who goes round 
the town in quest of the delinquents. But those, says Mr. H. Ross, who do 
not choose to disturb their neighbors with the slave cries, send them to the 
wharves or gaol, where they are corrected also by persons paid. At other times 
they are whipped publicly round the town, and at others tied down, or made 
to stand in some public place, and receive it there. When they are flogged on 
the wharves, to which they go for the convenience of the cranes and weights, 
they are described by H. Ross, Morley, Jeffreys, Towne, and Captain Scott, 
to have their arms tied to the hooks of the crane, and weights of fifty-six 


pounds applied to their feet. In this situation the crane is wound up, so that 
it lifts them nearly from the ground, and keeps them in a stretched posture, 
when the whip or cow-skin is used. After this they are again whipped, but 
with ebony bushes (which are more prickly than the thorn bushes in this coun 
try) in order to let out .the congealed blood. 

Respecting the whippings in gaol and round the town, Dr. Harrison thought 
them too severe to be inflicted on any of the human species. He attended a 
man, who had been flogged in gaol, who was ill in consequence five or six 
weeks. It was by his master's order for not coming when he was called. He 
could lay two or three fingers in the wounds made by the whip. 

The punishments in the country by means of the whip and cow-skin appear 
to differ, except in one instance, from those which have been mentioned of the 

It is usual for those, says Mr. Coor, who do not come into the field in time, 
to be punished. In this case a few steps before they join the gang they throw 
down the hoe, clap both hands on their heads, and patiently take ten, fifteen, 
or twenty lashes. 

There is another mode described by Mr. Coor. About eight o'clock, says 
he, the overseer goes to breakfast, and if he has any criminals at home, he 
orders a black man to follow him ; for it is then usual to take such out of the 
stocks and flog them before the overseer's house. The method is generally 
this : The delinquent is stripped and tied on a ladder, his legs on the sides and 
his arms above his head, and sometimes a rope is tied round his middle. The 
driver whips him on the bare skin, and if the overseer thinks he does not lay it 
on hard enough, he sometimes knocks him down with his own hand, or makes 
him change places with the delinquent, and be severely whipped. Mr. Coor 
has known many to receive on the ladder, from one hundred to one hundred 
and fifty lashes, and some two cool hundreds, as they are generally called. He 
has known many returned to confinement, and in one, two or three days, 
brought to the ladder, and receive the same complement, or thereabouts, as 
before. They seldom take them off the ladder, until all the skin, from the 
hams to the small of the back, appears only raw flesh and blood, and then they 
wash the parts with salt pickle. This appeared to him from the convulsions 
it occasioned, more cruel than the whipping, but it was done to prevent mor 
tification. He has known many after such whipping sent to the field under 
guard and worked all day, with no food but what their friends might give them, 
out of their own poor pittance. He has known them returned to the stocks at 
night, and worked next day, successively. This cruel whipping, hard working, 
and starving has, to his knowledge, made many commit suicide. He remem 
bers fourteen slaves, who, from bad treatment, rebelled on a Sunday, ran into 
the woods, and all cut their throats together. 

The whip, says Woolrich, is generally made of plaited cow-skin, with a 
thick strong lash. It is so formidable an instrument in the hands of some of 
the overseers, that by means of it they can take the skin off a horse's back. 
He has heard them boast of laying the marks of it in a deal board, and he has 


seen it done. On its application on a slave's back, he has seen the blood spurt 
out immediately on the first stroke. 

Nearly the same account of its construction is given by other witnesses, 
and its power and effects are thus described : At every stroke, says Captain 
Smith, a piece of flesh was drawn out. Dalrymple avers the same thing. It 
will even bring blood through the clothes, says J. Terry; and such is the 
effusion of blood on those occasions, adds Fitzmaurice, as to make their frocks, 
if immediately put on, appear as stiff as buckram ; and Coor observes, that at 
his first going to Jamaica, a sight of a common flogging would put him in a 
tremble, so that he did not feel right for the rest of the day. It is observed 
also by Dr. Harrison and the Dean of Middleham, that the incisions are some 
times so deep that you may lay your fingers in the wounds. There are also 
wheals, says Mr. Coor, from their hams to the small of their backs. These 
wheals, cuts, or marks, are described by Captain Thompson, Dean of Middle- 
ham, Mr. Jeffreys, and General Tottenham, as indelible, as lasting to old age, 
or as such as no time can erase, and Woolrich has often seen their backs one 
undistinguished mass of lumps, holes, and furrows. 

As farther proofs of the severity of these punishments by the whip or cow- 
skin, the following facts may be adduced. Duncan and Falconbridge have 
known them so whipped that they could not lie down. He knew also a negro 
girl die of a mortification of her wounds, two days after the whipping had ta 
ken place. A case similar to the last is also mentioned by Mr. Rees. Find 
ing, one day in his walks, a woman lying down and groaning, he understood 
from her that she had been so severely whipped for running away, that she could 
hardly move from the place where she was. Her left side, where she had been 
most whipped, appeared in a mortifying state, and almost covered with worms. 
He relieved her, as she was hungry, and in a day or two afterwards, going to 
visit her again, found she was dead and buried. To mention other instances : 
a planter flogged his driver to dpath, and even boasted of it to the person from 
whom Mr. Dalrymple had the account. Captain Hall (of the navy) also knows, 
by an instance that fell under his eye, that a slave's death may be occasioned 
by severe punishment. Dr. Jackson thinks, also, severe whippings are some 
times the occasion of their death. He recollects a negro dying under the lash, 
or soon afterwards ; and Captain Ross avers that they often die in a few days 
after their severe punishments, for having but little food, and little care being 
taken to keep the sores clean after the whipping, their death is often the con 

Having now collected what is said on the punishments by the whip and cow- 
skin, it will be proper to mention those other modes which the evidence 
presents us. These, however, are not easily subject to a division from the great 
variety of their kinds. 

Captain Cook, speaking of the towns, says he has been shocked to see a girl 
of sixteen or seventeen, a domestic slave, running in the streets on her ordi 
nary business, with an iron collar, having two hooks projecting several inches, 
both before and behind. 


Captain Ross, speaking of the country, has known slaves severely punished, 
then put into the stocks, a cattle chain of sixty or seventy pounds weight put 
on them, and a large collar about their necks, and a weight of fifty-six pounds 
fastened to the chain when they were drove a-field. 

Mr. Cook states that, when runaway slaves are brought in, they are gener 
ally severely flogged, and sometimes have an iron boot put on one or both legs, 
and a chain or collar round their necks. The chain is locked, the collar fas 
tened on by a rivet. When the collar is with three projections, it is impossible 
for them to lie down to sleep ; even with two, they must lie uneasily. He has 
seen collars with four projections. He never knew any injury from the chain 
and collar, but severely galling their necks. He has, however, known a negro 
lose his leg from wearing the iron boot. 

Mr. Dalrymple, in June, 1789, saw a negress brought to St. George's, Gre 
nada, to have her fingers cut off. She had committed a fault, and ran away to 
avoid punishment ; but being taken, her master suspended her by the hands, 
flogged and cut her cruelly on the back, breast and thighs, and then left her 
suspended till her fingers mortified. In this state Mr. Dalrymple saw her at 
Dr. Gilpin's house. 

Captain Ross has seen a negro woman in Jamaica flogged with ebony bushes, 
(much worse than our own thorn-bushes) so that the skin of her back was taken 
off, down to her heels. She was then turned round and flogged from her breast 
down to her waist, and in consequence he saw her afterwards walking upon all 
fours, and unable to get up. 

Captain Cook being on a visit to General Frere, at an estate of his in Bar- 
badoes, and riding one morning with the General and two other officers, they 
saw, near a house, upon a dunghill, a naked negro, nearly suspended, by strings 
from his elbows backwards, to the bough of a tree, with his feet barely upon the 
ground, and an iron weight round his neck, at least, to appearance, of fourteen 
pounds weight : and thus, without one creature near him, or apparently near 
the house, was this wretch left exposed to the noon-day sun. Returning a few 
hours after, they found him still in the same state, and would have released him, 
but for the advice of General Frere, who had an estate in the neighborhood. 
The gentlemen, through disgust, shortened their visit, and returned the next 

Lieutenant Davison and Mr. Woolrich mention the thumb-screw, and Mr. 
Woolrich, Captain Ross, Mr. Clappeson, and Dr. Harrison mention the picket 
as instruments of punishment. A negro man, in Jamaica, says Dr. Harrison, 
was put on the picket so long as to cause a mortification of his foot and hand, 
on suspicion of robbing his master, a public officer, of a sum of money, which, 
it afterwards appeared, the master had taken himself. Yet the master was 
privy to the punishment, and the slave had no compensation. He was pun 
ished by order of the master, who did not then choose to make it known that 
he himself had made use of the money. 

Jeffreys, Captain Ross, M. Terry, and Coor, mention the cutting off of ears, 
as another species of punishment. The last, gentleman gives the following in- 


stance in Jamaica : One of the house-girls having broken a plate, or spilt a 
cup of tea, the doctor (with whom Mr. Coor boarded) nailed her ear to a post. 
Mr. Coor remonstrated with him in vain. They went to bed, and left her there. 
In the morning she was gone, having torn the head of the nail through her ear. 
She was soon brought back, and when Mr. Coor came to breakfast, he found 
she had been severely whipped by the doctor, who, in his fury, clipped both her 
ears off close to her head, with a pair of large scissors, and she was sent to 
pick seeds out of cotton, among three or four more, emaciated by his cruelties, 
until they were fit for nothing else. 

Mr. M. Cook, while in Jamaica, knew a runaway slave brought in, with part 
of a turkey with him, which he had stolen, and which, Mr. Cook thinks, he had 
stolen from hunger, as he was nothing but skin and bone. His master imme 
diately made two negroes hold him down, and, with a hammer and a punch, 
knocked out two of his upper and two of his under teeth. 

Mr. Dalrymple was informed by a young woman slave, in Grenada, who had 
no teeth, that her mistress had, with her own hands, pulled them out, and given 
her a severe flogging besides, the marks of which she then bore. This relation 
was confirmed by several town's people of whom he inquired concerning it. 

Mr. Jeffreys has seen slaves with one of their hands off, which he understood 
to have been cut off for lifting it up against a white man. Captain Lloyd also 
saw at Mrs. Winne's, at Maumee Bay, in Jamaica, a female slave with but one 
hand only, the other having been cut off for the same offense. , Mrs. Winne 
had endeavored to prevent the amputation, but in vain, for her indented white 
woman could not be dissuaded from swearing that the slave had struck her, and 
the hand was accordingly cut off. 

Captain Giles, Dr. Jackson, Mr. Fitzmaurice, and Mr. M. Terry, have seen 
negroes whose legs had been cut off, by their master's orders, for running away, 
and Mr. Dalrymple gives the following account: A French planter, says he, 
in the English island of Grenada, sent for a surgeon to cut off the leg of a ne 
gro who had run away. On the surgeon's refusing to do it, the planter took 
an iron bar, and broke the leg in pieces, and then the surgeon cut it off. This 
planter did many such acts of cruelty, and all with impunity. 

Mr. Fitzmaurice mentions, among other instances of cruelty, that of drop 
ping hot lead upon negroes, which he often saw practiced by a planter of the 
name of Tlushie, during his residence in Jamaica. 

Mr. Hercules Ross, hearing one day, in Jamaica, from an inclosure, the 
cries of some poor wretch under torture, he looked through, and saw a young 
female suspended by the wrists to a tree, swinging to and fro. Her toes 
could hardly touch the ground, and her body was exceedingly agitated. The 
sight rather confounded him, as there was no whipping, and the master was 
just by, seemingly motionless ; but, on looking more attentively, he saw in his 
hand a stick of fire, which he held, so as occasionally to touch her as she 
swung. He continued this torture with unmoved countenance, until Mr. H. 
Ross, calling on him to desist, and throwing stones at him over the fence, 
stopped it. 


Mr. Fitzmaurice once found Rushie, the Jamaica planter before mentioned, 
in the act of hanging a negro. Mr. Fitzmaurice begged leave to intercede, 
as he was doing an action that in a few minutes he would repent of. Rushie, 
upon this, being a passionate man, ordered him off his estate. Mr. Fitzmau 
rice accordingly went, but returned early the next morning, before Rushie was 
up, and going into the curing-house, beheld the same negro lying dead upon a 
board. It was notorious that Rushie had killed many of his negroes, and 
destroyed them so fast that he was obliged to sell his estate. Captain Ross 
says, also, that there was a certain planter in the same island, who had hanged 
a negro on a post, close to his house, and in three years destroyed forty 
negroes out of sixty by severity. The rest of the conduct of this planter, as 
described by Captain Ross, was, after a debate, canceled by the committee 
of the House of Commons who took the evidence, as containing circumstances 
too horrible to be given to the world. On Shrewsbury estate,' in Jamaica, 
says Mr. Coor, the overseer sent for a slave, and in talking with him, he has 
tily struck him on the head with a small hanger, and gave him two stabs about 
the waist. The slave said, "Overseer, you have killed me." He pushed him 
out of the piazza. The slave went home and died that night. He was buried 
and no more said about it. A manager of an estate, says Mr. Woolrich, in 
Tortola, whose owner did not reside on the island, sitting at dinner, in a sud 
den resentment at his cook, went directly to his sword, and ran the negro 
woman through the body, and she died upon the floor immediately, and the 
negroes were called in to take her away and bury her. 

Mr. Giles recollects several shocking instances of punishment. In particu 
lar on the estate where he lived, in Montserrat, the driver at day-break once 
informed the overseer that one of four or five negroes, chained in the dun 
geon, would not rise. He accompanied the overseer to the dungeon, who set 
the others that were in the chain to drag him out, and not rising when out, he 
ordered a bundle of cane-trash to be put round him and set fire to. As he 
still did not rise, he had a small soldering iron heated and thrust between his 
teeth. As the man did not yet rise, he had the chain taken off and sent him 
to the hospital, where he languished some days and died. 

An overseer on the estate where Mr. J. Terry was, in Grenada, (Mr. Cog- 
hlan,) threw a slave into the boiling cane-juice, who died in four days. Mr. 
J. Terry was told of this by the owner's son, by the carpenter, and by many 
slaves on the estate. He has heard it often. 

Mr. Woolrich says a negro ran away from a planter in Tortola, with whom 
he was well acquainted. The overseer having ordered to take him, dead or 
alive, a while after found him in one of his huts, fast asleep, in the day time, 
and shot him through the body. The negro jumping up, said, " What, you 
kill me asleep ?" and dropped dead immediately. The overseer took off his 
head and carried it to the owner. Mr. Woolrich knew another instance in 
the same island. A planter, offended with his waiting man, a mulatto, stepped 
suddenly to his gun, on which the man ran off, but his master shot him through 
the head with a single ball. 


From the above accounts, there are no less than sixteen sorts of extraordi 
nary punishments, which the imagination has invented in the moments of pas 
sion and caprice. It is much to be lamented that there are others in the 
evidence not yet mentioned. But as it is necessary to insert a new head, 
under which will be explained the concern which the very women take, both 
in the ordinary and extraordinary punishments of the slaves, and as some of 
the latter, not yet mentioned, are inseparably connected with it, it was thought . 
proper to cite them under this new division rather than continue them under 
the old. It will appear extraordinary to the reader, that many women, living 
in the colonies, should not only order, and often superintend, but sometimes 
actually inflict, with their own hands, some severe punishments upon theii 
slaves, and that these should not always be women of a low order, but often 
of respectability and rank. 

Lieutenant Davison, Captain Smith and Dr. Jackson, all agree that it was 
common for ladies of respectability and rank to superintend the punishments 
of their slaves. Conformably with this, we find Dr. Harrison stating to the 
committee, that a negro, in Jamaica, was flogged to death by her mistress's 
order, who stood by to see the punishment. Lieutenant Davison also states, 
that in the same island he has seen several negro girls at work with the needle, 
in the presence of their mistresses, with a thumb-screw on their left thumbs, 
and he has seen the blood gush out from the ends of them. He has also seen 
a negro girl made to kneel with her bare knees on pebbles, and to work there 
at the same time ; a sort of punishment, he says, among the domestics, which 
he knows to be in common use. 

On the subject of women becoming the executioners of their own fury, Dr. 
Jackson observes, that the first thing that shocked him in Jamaica was a creole 
lady of some consequence, superintending the punishment of her slaves, male 
and female, ordering the number of lashes, and, with her own hands, flogging 
the negro driver if he did not punish properly. 

Capt. Cook relates that two young ladies of fortune, in Barbadoes, sisters, 
one of whom was displeased at a female slave belonging to the other, pro 
ceeded to some very derogatory acts of cruelty. With their own garters they 
tied the young woman neck and heels, and then beat her almost to death with 
the heels of their shoes. One of her eyes continued a long while afterwards 
in danger of being lost. They, after this, continued to use her ill, confining 
and degrading her. Capt. Cook came in during the beating, and was an eye 
witness to it himself. 

Lieutenant Davison states, in his evidence, that the clergyman's wife at Port 
Koyal, was remarkably cruel. She used to drop hot sealing wax on her 
negroes, after flogging them. He was sent for as surgeon to one of them, 
whose breast was terribly burnt with sealing wax. He lived next door, he 
states, also, to a washer-woman at Port Royal, who was almost continually 
flogging her negroes. He has often gone in and remonstrated against her 
cruelty, when he has seen the negro women chained to the washing-tubs, 


almost naked, with their thighs and backs in a gore of blood, from flogging. 
He could mention various other capricious punishments, if necessary. 

Mr. Forster, examined on the same subject, says he has known a creole 
woman, in Antigua, drop hot sealing wax on a girl's back, after a flogging. 
He and many others saw a young woman of fortune and character flogging a 
negro man very severely with her own hands. Many similar instances he 
. could relate if necessary. They are almost innumerable among the domestic 

If it should be asked for what offenses the different punishments now cited 
have taken place, the following answer may be given : The slaves appear to 
have been punished, as far as can be ascertained from the evidence under the 
head of ordina; ^ punishments, for not coming into the field in time, not pick 
ing a sufficient quantity of grass, not appearing willing to work, when in fact 
sick and not able, for staying too long on an errand, for not coming immedi 
ately when called, for not bringing home (the women) the full weekly sum 
enjoined by their owners, for running away, and for theft, to which they were 
often driven by hunger. Under the head of "extraordinary punishments," 
some appear to have suffered for running away, or for lifting up a hand 
against a white man, or for breaking a plate, or spilling a cup of tea, or to 
extort confession. Others, again, in the moments of sudden resentment, and 
one on a diabolical pretext, which the master held out to the world to conceal 
his own villainy, and which he knew to be false. 

On the subject of capital offenses and punishments, a man and a woman slave 
are mentioned to have been hanged, the man for running away, and the woman 
for having secreted him. The Dean of Middleham saw two instances of slaves 
being gibbetted alive in chains, but he does not say for what, only that this is 
the punishment for enormous crimes : and Mr. Jeffreys, the only other person 
who speaks on this subject, says that he was in one of the islands, when some 
of the slaves murdered a white man, and destroyed some property on the es 
tate. The execution of these he describes as follows : 

He was present, he says, at the execution of seven negroes in Tobago, in 
the year 1774, whose right arms were chopped off: they were then dragged to 
seven stakes, and a fire, consisting of trash and dry wood, was lighted about 
them. They were there burnt to death. He does not remember hearing one 
of them murmur, complain, cry, or do any thing that indicated fear. One of 
them, in particular, named Chubb, was taken in the woods that morning, was 
tried about noon, and was thus executed with the rest in the evening. Mr. Jef 
freys stood close by Chubb when his arm was cut off. He stretched his arm 
out, and laid it upon the block, pulled up the sleeve of his shirt with more cool 
ness than he (Mr. Jeffreys) should have done, were he to have been bled. He 
afterwards would not suffer himself to be dragged to the stake, as the others 
had been, but got upon his feet and walked to it. As he was going to the 
stake, he turned about, and addressed himself to Mr. Jeffreys, who was stand 
ing within two or three yards of him, and said, " Buckra, you see me now, but 
to-morrow I shall be like that," kicking up the dust with his foot, (Here Mr. 


Jeffreys solemnly added, in his evidence, the words " So help me God.") The 
impression this made upon his mind, Mr. Jeffreys declared, no time could ever 
erase. Sampson, who made the eighth, and a negro, whose name Mr. Jeffreys 
does not recollect, were present at this execution. Sampson, next morning, 
was hung in chains alive, and there he hung till he was dead, which, to the best 
of his recollection, was seven days. The other negro was sentenced to be sent 
to the mines in South America, and, he believes, was sent accordingly. Nei 
ther of those two, during the time of the execution, showed any marks of con 
cern, or dismay, that he could observe. A stronger instance of human forti 
tude, he declared, he never saw. 

Having now stated the substance of the evidence on the subject of offenses 
and punishments, we come to a custom which appears to have been too general 
to be passed over in silence. 

Dalrymple, Forester, Captain Smith, Captain Wilson, and General Totten 
ham, assert that it is no uncommon thing for persons to neglect and turn off 
their slaves when past labor. They are turned off, say Captain Wilson, Lieu 
tenant Davison, and General Tottenham, to plunder, beg, or starve. Captain 
Cook has known some to take care of them ; but says others leave them to starve 
and die. They are often desired, when old, says Mr. Fitzmaurice, to provide 
for themselves, and they suffer much. Mr. Clappeson knew a man who had an 
old, decrepit woman slave, to whom he would allow nothing. When past la 
bor, the owner did not feed them, says Giles ; and Cook states that, within his 
experience, they had no food except what they could get from such relations as 
they might have had. General Tottenham has often met them, and, once in 
particular, an old woman, past labor, who told him that her master had set her 
adrift to shift for herself. He saw her about three days afterwards, lying dead 
in the same place. The custom of turning them off when old and helpless is 
called in the islands " Giving them free." 

As a proof of how little the life of an old slave was regarded in the West 
Indies, we may make the following extract from the evidence of Mr. Coor. 
Once, when he was dining with an overseer, an old woman who had run away a 
few days, was brought home, with her hands tied behind. After dinner, the 
overseer, with the clerk, named Bakewell, took the woman, thus tied, to the 
hot-house, a place for the sick, and where the stocks are in one of the rooms. 
Mr. Coor went to work in the mill, about one hundred yards off, and hearing a 
most distressful cry from that house, he asked his men what it was. They said 
they thought it was old Quasheba. About five o'clock the noise ceased, and 
about the time he was leaving work, Bakewell came to him, apparently in great 
spirits, and said, "Well, Mr. Coor, Old Quasheba is dead. We took her to 
the stocks-room ; the overseer threw a rope over the beam ; I was Jack Ketch, 
and hauled her up till her feet were off the ground. The overseer locked the 
door, and took the key with him, till my return just now, with a slave for the 
stocks, when I found her dead." Mr. Coor said, " You have killed her; I 
heard her cry all the afternoon." He answered, " She was good for nothing ; 
what signifies killing such an old woman as her?" Mr. Ooqr said, " Bakewell, 


you shock me," and left him. The next morning his men told him they had 
helped to bury her. 

But it appears that the aged are not the only persons whose fate is to be 
commiserated, when they became of no value ; for people in youth, if disabled, 
were abandoned to equal misery. General Tottenham, about three weeks before 
the hurricane, saw a youth, about nineteen, walking in the streets, in a most de 
plorable situation, entirely naked, and with an iron collar about his neck, with 
five long projecting spikes. His body, before and behind, was almost cut to 
pieces, and with running sores all over it, and you might put your finger in 
some of the wheals. He could not sit down, owing to his being in a state of 
mortification, and it was impossible for him to lie down, from the projection of 
the prongs. The boy came to the general and asked relief. He was shocked 
at his appearance, and asked him what he had done to suffer such a punishment, 
and who inflicted it. He said it was his master, who lived about two miles 
from town, and that as he could not work, he would give him nothing to eat. 

If it be possible to view human depravity in a worse light than it has already 
appeared in on the subject of the treatment of the slaves when disabled from 
labor, it may be done by referring to the evidence of Captain Lloyd, who was 
told by a person of veracity, when in the West Indies, but whom he did not 
wish to name in his evidence, that it was the practice of a certain planter to 
frame pretenses for the execution of his old worn out slaves, in order to get the 
island allowance. And it was supposed that he dealt largely in that way. 

Having now cited both the ordinary and extraordinary punishments inflicted 
upon the slaves, it may be presumed that some one will ask here, whether, un 
der these various acts of cruelty, they were wholly without redress ? To this 
the following answer may be given : That, with respect to the ordinary pun 
ishments by the whip and cowskin, (where they did not terminate in death,) the 
power of the master or overseer was under little or no control. 

As to such of the extraordinary punishments before mentioned as did not 
terminate in death, such as picketing, dropping hot sealing-wax on the flesh, 
cutting off ears, and the like, it appears that slaves had no redress whatever, 
for that these actions also on the part of the masters were not deemed within 
the reach of the law. In the instance cited of the doctor clipping off the ears 
of a female slave, no more notice was taken of it, says Coor, than if a dog's 
ears had been cut off, though it must have been known to the magistrates. In 
the dreadful instance also cited of a planter's breaking his slave's leg by an iron 
bar, to induce the surgeon to cut it off, as a punishment, Mr. Dalrymple ob 
serves that it was not the public opinion that any punishment was due to him 
on that account, for though it was generally known, he was equally well re 
ceived in society afterwards as before ; and in the case also mentioned of the 
owner torturing his female slave by the application of a lighted torch to her 
body, Mr. H. Ross states, only that this owner was not a man of character ; 
with respect to his suffering by the law, he observes that he was never brought 
to any trial for it ; and he did not know that the law then extended to the pun 
ishment of whites for such acts as these. 


With respect to such of the punishments as have terminated in death, the 
reader will be able to collect what power the masters and overseers, and what 
protection the slaves have had by law, from the following accounts : 

There are no less than seven specific instances mentioned in the evidence, in 
which slaves died in consequence of the whipping they received, and yet in 
no one of them was the murderer brought to account. One of the perpetra 
tors is mentioned by Mr. Dalrymple as having boasted of what he had done; 
and Dr. Jackson speaks of the other in these words : " No attempts, says he, 
were made to bring him to justice : people said it was an unfortunate thing, 
and were surprised that he was not more cautious, as it was not the first thing 
of the kind that had happened to him, but they dwelt chiefly on the proprie 
tor's loss." 

In such of the extraordinary punishments as terminated in death, there are 
no less than seven specific instances also in the evidence. In one of them, viz : 
that of throwing the slave into the boiling cane-juice, we find from Mr. J. Terry 
that the overseer was punished, but his punishment consisted only of replacing 
the slave and leaving his owner's service. In that of killing the slave by light 
ing a fire round him and putting a hot soldering iron into his mouth, the over 
seer's conduct, says Mr. Giles, was not even condemned by his master, nor in 
any of the rest were any means whatsoever used to punish the offenders. In 
the three mentioned by Mr. Woolrich, he particularly says, all the white peo 
ple in the island were acquainted with these acts. Neither of the offenders, 
however, were called to an account, nor were they shunned in society for it, or 
considered as in disgrace. 

Such appears to have been, in the experience of the different witnesses cited, 
the forlorn and wretched situation of the slaves. They often complain, says 
Dr. Jackson, that they are an oppressed people ; that they suffer in this world, 
but expect happiness in the next ; whilst they denounce the vengeance of God 
on their oppressors, the white men. If you speak to them of future punish 
ments, they say, " Why should a poor negro be punished ? he does no wrong ; 
fiery caldrons, and such things, are reserved for white people, as punishments 
for the oppression of slaves." 

Bryan Edwards, the historian of the West Indies, gives the price of new ne 
groes in 1791. An able man, in his prime, 50 sterling ; an able woman, 49 
sterling; a youth approaching to manhood, 47 sterling; a young girl, 46 
sterling ; boys and girls, from 40 to 45 sterling ; an infant, 5. The annual 
profit arising to the owner, from each able field negro, employed in cultivating 
sugar, he estimates at 25 sterling. An opinion prevailed among the planters 
that it was cheaper to buy than to breed. If a negro lasted a certain time his 
death was accounted nothing. This time was fixed at seven years by some 
planters ; by others at less. A planter of Jamaica, by name of Yeman, ac 
cording to Captain Scott's testimony, reduced his calculation to four years, 
treating his slaves most cruelly, and saying that four years' labor was enough 
for him, for he then had got his money out of him, and he did not care what 
became of him afterwards. 




Period from 1660 to 1760 : Godwin, Richard Baxter, Atkins, Hughes, Bishop Warbur- 
ton. Planters accustomed to take their Slaves to England, and to carry them back 
into slavery by force. Important case of James Somerset decided, 1772. John 
Wesley. Motion in House of Commons against Slave-Trade, 1776. Case of ship 
Zong. Bridgwater Petitions. The Quakers in England oppose Slavery. Resolutions 
of the Quakers, from 1727 to 1760. They Petition House of Commons. First Society 
formed, 1783. The Quakers and others in America. Action of the Quakers of Penn 
sylvania from 1688 to 1788. Benezet writes tracts against Slavery. His letter to the 
Queen. Sentiment in America, favorable to Africans, 1772. House of Burgesses of 
Va., addresses the King. Original draft of Declaration of Independence. First So 
ciety formed in America "for Promoting Abolition of Slavery," 1774. Opposition to 
the Slave-Trade in America. 


HE first importation of slaves from Africa by the English was in 1562, in 
the reign of Elizabeth. This great princess seems on the very commencement 
of the trade to have questioned its lawfulness ; to have entertained a religious 
scruple concerning it, and', indeed, to have revolted at the very thought of it. 
She seems to have been aware of the evils to which its continuance might 
lead, or that, if it were sanctioned, the most unjustifiable means might be made 
use of to procure the persons of the natives of Africa. And in what light she 
would have viewed any acts of this kind, had they taken place, we may con 
jecture from this fact ; that when Captain (afterwards Sir John) Hawkins re 
turned from his first voyage to Africa and Hispaniola, whither he had carried 
slaves, she sent for him, and, as we learn from Hill's Naval History, expressed 
her concern lest any of the Africans should be carried off without their free 
consent, declaring that " It would be detestable, and call down the vengeance 
of Heaven upon the undertakers." Captain Hawkins promised to comply 
with the injunctions of Elizabeth in this respect. But he did not keep his 
word ; for when he went to Africa again, he seized many of the inhabitants, 
and carried them off as slaves, which occasioned Hill, in the account he gives 
of his voyage, to use these remarkable words : " Here began the horrid prac 
tice of forcing the Africans into slavery, an injustice and barbarity which, so 
sure as there is vengeance in heaven for the worst of crimes, will some time bo 
the destruction of all who allow or encourage it." 

Though the slave-trade commenced so early, there were no united and effec 
tive efforts made for its abolition till the year 1787 ; at which period a num 
ber of persons associated themselves in England for this benevolent object. 
However, for a long time previous to the forming of this important associa 
tion, individuals were continually rising, who, by their writings and labors 
rendered valuable service to the cause of humanity, and who are properly con 
sidered as forerunners inasmuch as they prepared the way for that extensive 
and united effort which 'finally succeeded in rendering illegal the abominable 
traffic. In giving a history of the Abolition of the slave-trade, it will be 


proper to notice a few of the more prominent and active of these harbingers 
in the great cause of humanity. 

Morgan Godwyn, a clergyman of the established church, wrote a Treatise 
upon the subject, which he dedicated to the then archbishop of Canterbury. 
He gave it to the world, at the time mentioned, under the title of " The 
Negro's and Indian's Advocate." In this treatise he lays open the situation 
of these oppressed people, of whose sufferings he had been an eyewitness in 
the island of Barbadoes. He calls forth the pity of the reader in an affecting 
manner, and exposes with a nervous eloquence the brutal sentiments and con 
duct of their oppressors. This seems to have been the first work undertaken 
in England expressly in favor of the cause. 

Richard Baxter, the celebrated divine among the Nonconformists, in his 
Christian Directory, published about the same time as the Negro's and Indian's 
Advocate, gives advice to those masters in foreign plantations, who have 
negroes and other slaves. In this he protests loudly against this trade. He 
says expressly that they, who go out as pirates, and take away poor Africans, 
or people of another land who never forfeited life or liberty, and make them 
slaves and sell them, are the worst of robbers, and ought to be considered as 
the common enemies of mankind ; and that they, who buy them, and use them 
as mere beasts for their own convenience, regardless of their spiritual welfare, 
are fitter to be called demons than Christians. He then proposes several 
queries, which he answers in a clear and forcible manner, showing the great 
inconsistency of this traffic, and the necessity of treating those then in bondage 
with tenderness and due regard to their spiritual concerns. 

The person who seems to have noticed the subject next was Dr. Primatt. 
In his " Dissertation on the Duty of Mercy, and on the Sin of Cruelty to 
Brute-animals," he takes occasion to advert to the subject of the African slave 
trade. "It has pleased God," says he, "to cover some men with white skins, 
and others with black ; but as there is neither merit nor demerit in complex 
ion, the white man, notwithstanding the barbarity of custom and prejudice, 
can have no right by virtue of his color to enslave and tyrannize over the 
black man. For whether a man be white or black, such he is by God's ap 
pointment, and, abstractedly considered, is neither a subject for pride, nor an 
object of contempt." 

In the year 1735, Atkins who was a surgeon in the navy, published his 
voyage to Guinea, Brazil, and the West Indies. In this work he describes 
openly the manner of making the natives slaves, such as by kidnapping, by 
unjust accusations and trials, and by other nefarious means. He states also 
the cruelties practiced upon them by the white people, and the iniquitous ways 
and dealings of the latter, and answers their argument, by which they insinua 
ted that the condition of Africans was improved by their transportation to 
other countries. 

In the year 1750 the reverend Griffith Hughes, rector of St. Lucy,. in Bar 
badoes, published his Natural History of that island. He took an opportu- 


nity, in the course of it, of laying open to the world the miserable situation of 
the Africans, and the waste of them by hard labor and other cruel means. 

Edmund Burke, in his account of the European settlements, complains 
"that the negroes in our colonies endure a slavery more complete, and attended 
with far worse circumstances, than what any people in their condition suffer in 
any other part of the world, or have suffered in any other period of time." 

Bishop Warburton preached a sermon in the year 1766, before the Society 
for the Propagation of the Gospel, in which he took up the cause of the 
Africans, and in which he severely reprobated their oppressors. The language 
in this sermon is so striking, that we make an extract from it. " From the 
free savages," says he, " I now come to the savages in bonds. By these I 
mean the vast multitudes yearly stolen from the opposite continent, and sacri 
ficed by the colonists to their great idol the god of gain. But what then, say 
these sincere worshippers of mammon ? They are our own property which we 
offer up. Gracious God ! to talk, as of herds of cattle, of property in ra 
tional creatures, creatures endued with all our faculties, possessing all our 
qualities but that of color, our brethren both by nature and grace, shocks all 
the feelings of humanity, and the dictates of common sense ! But, alas ! what 
is there, in the infinite abuses of society, which does not shock them ? Yet 
nothing is more certain in itself and apparent to all, than that the infamous 
traffic for slaves directly infringes both divine and human law. Nature created 
man free, and grace invites him to assert his freedom. 

" In excuse of this violation it hath been pretended, that though indeed 
these miserable outcasts of humanity be torn from their homes and native 
country by fraud and violence, yet they thereby become the happier, and their 
condition the more eligible. But who are you, who pretend to judge of 
another man's happiness ; that state, which each man under the guidance of 
his Maker forms for himself, and not one man for another ? To know what 
constitutes mine or your happiness is the sole prerogative of Him who created 
us, and cast us in so various and different moulds. Did your slaves ever com 
plain to you of their unhappiness amidst their native woods and deserts ? or 
rather let me ask, Did they ever cease complaining of their condition under 
you, their lordly masters, where they see indeed the accommodations of civil 
life, but see them all pass to others, themselves unbenefited by them ? Be so 
gracious then, ye petty tyrants over human freedom, to let your slaves judge 
for themselves, what it is which makes their own happiness, and then see 
whether they do not place it in the return to their own country, rather than in 
the contemplation of your grandeur, of which their misery makes so large a 
part ; a return so, passionately longed for, that, despairing of happiness here, 
that is, of escaping the chains of their cruel task-masters, they console them 
selves with feigning it to be the gracious reward of heaven in their future 

Before the year 1700, planters, merchants, and others, resident in the West 
Indies, but coming to England, were accustomed to bring with them certain 
.slaves to act as servants with them during their stay. The latter, seeing the 


freedom and the happiness of servants in that country, and considering what 
would be their own hard fate on their return to the islands, frequently abscon 
ded. Their masters of course made search after them, and often had them 
seized and carried away by force. It was, however, declared by many on these 
occasions, that the English laws did not sanction such proceedings, for that all 
persons who were baptized became free. The consequence of this was, that 
most of the slaves who came over with their masters prevailed upon some 
pious clergyman to baptize them. They took of course godfathers of sue 
citizens as had the generosity to espouse their cause. When they were* seized 
they usually sent to these, if they had an opportunity, for their protection. 
And in the result, their godfathers, maintaining that they had been baptized, 
and that they were free on this account as well as by the general tenor of the 
laws of England, dared those, who had taken possession of them, to send them 
out of the kingdom. 

The planters, merchants, and others, being thus circumstanced, knew not 
what to do. They were afraid of taking their slaves away by force, and they 
were equally afraid of bringing any of the cases before a public court. In this 
dilemma, in 1729 they applied to York and Talbot, the attorney and solicitor- 
general for the time being, and obtained the following strange opinion from 
them : " We are of opinion, that a slave by coming from the West Indies into 
Great Britain or Ireland, either with or without his master, does not become 
free, and that his master's right and property in him is not thereby determined 
or varied, and that baptism doth not bestow freedom on him, nor make any 
alteration in his temporal condition in these kingdoms. We are also of opin 
ion, that the master may legally compel him to return to the plantations." 

This opinion was delivered in the year 1729. The planters, merchants, and 
others, gave it of course all the publicity in their power. And the consequen 
ces were as might easily have been apprehended. In a little time slaves ab 
sconding were advertised in the London papers as runaways, and rewards 
offered for the apprehension of them. They were advertised also, in the same 
papers, to be sold by auction, sometimes by themselves, and again with horses, 
chaises, and harness. They were seized also by their masters, or by persons 
employed by them, in the very streets, and dragged from thence to the ships ; 
and so unprotected now were these poor slaves, that persons in nowise con 
cerned with them began to institute a trade in their persons, making agree 
ments with captains of ships going to the West Indies to put them on board 
at a certain price. 

These circumstances did not fail of producing new coadjutors in the cause. 
And first they produced that able and indefatigable advocate, Mr. Granville 
Sharp. This gentleman is to be distinguished from those who preceded him in 
this particular, that, whereas these were only writers, he was both a writer and 
an actor in the cause. In fact, he was the first laborer in it in England. The 
following is a short history of the beginning and of the course of his labors : 

In the year 1765, Mr. David Lisle had brought over from Barbadoes, Jona 
than Strong, an African slave, as his servant. He used the latter in a bar- 


- ^ r . - * 

barous manner at his lodgings in Wapping, but particularly by beating him 
over the head with a pistol, which occasioned his head to swell. When the 
swelling went down, a disorder fell into his eyes, which threatened the loss of 
them. To this an ague and fever succeeded, and a lameness in both of his legs. 

Jonathan Strong, having been brought into this deplorable situation, and 
being therefore wholly useless, was left by his master to go whither he pleased. 
He applied accordingly to Mr. William Sharp, the surgeon, for his advice, as 
to one who gave up a portion of his time to the healing of the diseases of the 
poor. It was here that Mr. Granville Sharp, the brother of the former, saw 
him. Suffice it to say, that in process of time he was cured. During this 
time Mr. Granville Sharp, pitying his hard case, supplied him with money, 
and he afterwards got him a situation in the family of Mr. Brown, an apoth 
ecary, to carry out medicines. 

In this new situation, when Strong had become healthy and robust in his 
appearance, his master happened to see him. The latter immediately formed 
the design of possessing him again. Accordingly, when he had found out his 
residence, he procured John Ross, keeper of the Poultry-compter, and Will 
iam Miller, an officer under the lord mayor, to kidnap him. This was done by 
sending for him to a public house in Fenchurch street, and then seizing him. 
By these he was conveyed, without any warrant, to the Poultry-compter, where 
he was sold by his master, to John Kerr, for thirty pounds. 

Strong, in this situation, sent, as was usual, to his godfathers, John London 
and Stephen Nail, for their protection. They went, but were refused admit 
tance to him. At length he sent for Mr. Granville Sharp. The latter went, 
but they still refused access to the prisoner. He insisted, however, upon see 
ing him, and charged the keeper of the prison at his peril to deliver him up 
till he had been carried before a magistrate. 

Mr. Sharp immediately upon this waited upon Sir Robert Kite, the then 
lord mayor, and entreated him to send for Strong, and to hear his case. A 
day was accordingly appointed. Mr. Sharp attended, and also William 
M'Bean, a notary public, and David Laird, captain of the ship Thames, which 
was to have conveyed Strong to Jamaica, in behalf of the purchaser, John 
Kerr. A long conversation ensued, in which the opinion of York and Talbot 
was quoted. Mr. Sharp made his observation. Certain lawyers, who were 
present, seemed to be staggered at the case, but inclined rather to recommit 
the prisoner. The lord mayor, however, discharged Strong, as he had been 
taken up without a warrant. 

As soon as this determination was made known, the parties began to move 
off. Captain Laird, however, who kept close to Strong, laid hold of him be 
fore he had quitted the room, and said aloud, " Then I now seize him as my 
slave." Upon this, Mr. Sharp put his hand upon Laird's shoulder, and pro 
nounced these words : "I charge you in the name of the king with an assault 
upon the person of Jonathan Strong, and all these are my witnesses." Laird 
was greatly intimidated by this charge, made in the presence of the lord mayor 



and others, and fearing a prosecution, let his prisoner go, leaving him to be 
conveyed away by Mr. Sharp. 

Mr. Sharp, having been greatly affected by this case, and foreseeing how 
much he might be engaged in others of a similar nature, thought it time that 
the law of the land should be known upon this subject. He applied therefore 
to Doctor Blackstone, afterwards Judge Blackstone, for his opinion upon it. 
He was, however, not satisfied with it, when he received it ; nor could he ob 
tain any satisfactory answer from several other lawyers, to whom he afterwards 
applied. The truth is, that the opinion of York and Talbot, which had been 
made public and acted upon by the planters, merchants, and others, was con 
sidered of high authority, and scarcely any one dared to question the legality 
of it. lu this situation, Mr. Sharp saw no means of help but in his own in 
dustry, and he determined immediately to give up two or three years to the 
study of the English law, that he might the better advocate the cause of these 
miserable people. The result of these studies was the publication of a book, 
in the year 1769, which he called "A Representation of the Injustice and dan 
gerous Tendency of Tolerating Slavery in England." In this work he refuted, 
in the clearest manner, the opinion of York and Talbot. He produced against 
it the opinion of the Lord Chief Justice Holt, who many years before had de 
termined that every slave coming into England became free. He attacked 
and refuted it again by a learned and laborious inquiry into all the principles 
of villenage, He refuted it again, by showing it to be an axiom in the British 
constitution, " That every man in England was free to sue for and defend his 
rights, and that force could not be used without a legal process," leaving it to 
the judges to determine whether an African was a man. He attacked, also, 
the opinion of Judge Blackstone, and showed where his error lay. This book, 
containing these and other arguments on the subject, he distributed, but par 
ticularly among the lawyers, giving them an opportunity of refuting or 
acknowledging the doctrines it contained. 

While Mr. Sharp was engaged in this work, another case offered, in which 
he took a part. This was in the year 1768. Hylas, an African slave, prose 
cuted a person of the name of Newton for having kidnapped his wife, and sent 
her to the West Indies. The result of this trial was, that damages to the 
amount of a shilling were given, and the defendant was bound to bring back 
the woman, either by the first ship, or in six months from this decision of the 

But soon after the work just mentioned was out, and when Mr. Sharp was 
better prepared, a third case occurred. This happened in the year 1770. Rob 
ert Stapylton, who lived at Chelsea, in conjunction with John Malonj and 
Edward Armstrong, two watermen, seized the person of Thomas Lewis, an 
African slave, in a dark night, and dragged him to a boat lying in the Thames; 
they then gagged him, and tied him with a cord, and rowed him down to a 
ship, and put him on board to be sold as a slave in Jamaica. This action took 
place near the garden of Mrs. Banks, the mother of Sir Joseph Banks. Lewis, 
it appears, on being seized, screamed violently. The servants of Mrs. Banks, 


who heard his cries, ran to his assistance, but the boat was gone. OB inform 
ing their mistress of what had happened, she sent for Mr Sharp, who began 
now to be known as the friend of the helpless Africans, and professed her will 
ingness to incur the expense of bringing the delinquents to justice. Mr. Sharp, 
with some difficulty, procured a habeas corpus, in consequence of which Lewis 
was brought from Gravesend just as the vessel was on the point of sailing. 
An action was then commenced against Stapylton, who defended himself on 
the plea, " That Lewis belonged to him as his slave." In the course of the trial, 
Mr. Dunning, who was counsel for Lewis, paid Mr. Sharp a handsome com 
pliment, for he held in his hand Mr. Sharp's book on the injustice and danger 
ous tendency of tolerating slavery in England, while he was pleading ; and in 
his address to the jury he spoke and acted thus : "I shall submit to you," says 
Mr. Dunning, "what my ideas are upon such evidence, reserving to myself 
an opportunity of discussing it more particularly, and reserving to myself a 
right to insist upon a position, which I will maintain (and here he held up the 
book to the notice of those present) in any place and in any court of the king 
dom, that our laws admit of no such property." The result of the trial was, 
that the jury pronounced the plaintiff not to have been the property of the 
defendant, several of them crying out "No property, no property." 

After this, one or two other trials came on, in which the oppressor was de 
feated ; and several cases occurred, in which slaves were liberated from the holds 
of vessels, and other places of confinement, by the exertions of Mr. Sharp. 
One of these cases was singular. The vessel on board which a poor African 
had been dragged and confined had reached the Downs, and had actually got 
under way for the West Indies. In two or three hours she would have been 
out of sight ; but just at this critical moment the writ of habeas corpus was 
carried on board. The officer who served it on the captain saw the miserable 
African chained to the mainmast, bathed in tears, and casting a last mournful 
look on the land of freedom, which was fast receding from his sight. The cap 
tain, on receiving the writ, became outrageous ; but, knowing the serious con 
sequences of resisting the law of the land, he gave up his prisoner, whom the 
officer carried safe, but now crying for joy, to the shore. 

Though the injured Africans, whose causes had been tried, escaped slavery, 
and though many, who had been forcibly carried into dungeons, ready to be 
transported back into the colonies, had been delivered out of them, Mr.. Sharp 
was not easy in his mind. Not one of the cases had yet been pleaded on the 
broad ground, " Whether an African slave coming into England became free ? " 
This great question had been hitherto studiously avoided. It was still, there 
fore, left in doubt. Mr. Sharp was almost daily acting as if it had been deter 
mined, and as if he had been following the known law of the land. He wished, 
therefore, that the next cause might be argued upon this principle. Lord 
Mansfield, too, who had been biased by the opinion of York and Talbot, be 
gan to waver in consequence of the different pleadings he had heard on this 
subject. He saw also no end of trials like these, till the law should be ascer 
tained, and he was anxious for a decision on the same basis as Mr. Sharp. In 


this situation the following case offered, which was agreed upon for the deter 
mination of this important question. 

James Somerset, an African slave, had been brought to England by his 
master, Charles Stewart, in November, 1769. Somerset, in process of time, 
left him. Stewart took an opportunity of seizing him, and had him conveyed 
on board the Ann and Mary, Captain Knowles, to be carried out of the king 
dom, and sold as a slave in Jamaica. The question was, " Whether a slave, 
by coming into England, became free ? " 

In order that time might be given for ascertaining the law fully on this head, 
the case was argued at three different sittings. First, in January, 1772 ; 
secondly, in February, 1772 ; and thirdly, in May, 1772. And that no decis 
ion otherwise than what the law warranted might be given, the opinion of the 
Judges was taken upon the pleadings. The result of the trial was, That as 
soon as ever any slave set his foot upon English territory, he became free 

Thus ended the great case of Somerset, which, having been determined after 
so deliberate an investigation of the law, can never be reversed while the Brit 
ish Constitution remains. The eloquence displayed in it by those who were 
engaged on the side of liberty, was perhaps never exceeded on any occasion 

Mr. Sharp felt it his duty, immediately after the trial, to write to Lord 
North, then principal minister of state, warning him, in the most earnest man 
ner, to abolish immediately both the trade and the slavery of the human 
species in all the British dominions, as utterly irreconcileable with the princi 
ples of the British constitution, and the established religion of the land. 

In the year 1774, John Wesley, the celebrated divine, to whose pious labors 
the religious world will be long indebted, undertook the cause of the Africans. 
He had been in America, and had seen and pitied their hard condition. The 
work which he gave to the world in consequence, was entitled " Thoughts on 
Slavery." Mr. Wesley had this great cause much at heart, and frequently 
recommended it to the support of those who attended his useful ministry. 

The year 1776 produced two new friends in England, in the same cause, 
but in a line in which no one had yet moved. David Hartley, then a member 
of parliament for Hull, found it impossible any longer to pass over without 
notice the cause of the oppressed Africans. He had long felt for their 
wretched condition, and, availing himself of his legislative situation, he made 
a motion in the house of commons, "That the slave trade was contrary to the 
laws of God and the rights of men." 

Dr. Adam Smith, in his "Theory of Moral Sentiments," had, so early as 
the year 1759, held the slaves up in an honorable, and their tyrants in a 
degrading light. " There is not a negro from the coast of Africa, who does 
not, in this respect, possess a degree of magnanimity which the soul of his 
sordid master is too often scarce capable of conceiving. Fortune never 
exerted more cruelly her empire over mankind, than when she subjected those 
nations of heroes to the refuse of the gaols of Europe, to wretches who possess 
the virtue neither of the countries they came from, nor of those they go to. 
and whose levity, brutality, and baseness so justly expose them to the con- 



tempt of the vanquished." In 17*76, in his "Wealth of Nations," he showed 
in a forcible manner (for he appealed to the interest of those concerned) the 
dearness of African labor, or the impolicy of employing slaves. 

In the year 1783, we find Mr. Sharp coming again into notice. We find 
him at this time taking a part in a cause, the knowledge of which, in propor 
tion as it was disseminated, produced an earnest desire among all disinterested 
persons for the abolition of the slave-trade. 

In this year, certain underwriters desired to be heard against Gregson and 
others of Liverpool, in the case of the ship Zong, captain Collingwood, 
alleging that the captain and officers of the said vessel threw overboard one 
hundred and thirty-two slaves alive into the sea, in order to defraud them, by 
claiming the value of said slaves, as if they had been lost in a natural way. 
In the course of the trial, which afterwards came on, it appeared that the 
slaves on board the Zong were very sickly ; that sixty of them had already 
died, and several were ill and likely to die ; when the captain proposed to 
James Kelsall, the mate, and others, to throw several of them overboard, 
stating " that if they died a natural death, the loss would fall upon the owners 
of the ship, but that if they were thrown into the sea, it would fall upon the 
underwriters." He selected, accordingly, one hundred and thirty -two of the 
most sickly of the slaves. Fifty-four of these were immediately thrown over 
board, and forty-two were made to be partakers of their fate on the succeed 
ing day. In the course of three days afterwards, the remaining twenty-six 
were brought upon the deck to complete the number of victims. The first 
sixteen submitted to be thrown into the sea, but the rest, with a noble resolu 
tion, would not suffer the officers to touch them, but leaped after their com 
panions and shared their fate. 

The plea which was set up in behalf of this atrocious and unparalleled act 
of wickedness, was that the captain discovered, when he made the proposal, 
that he had only two hundred gallons of water on board, and that he had 
missed his port. It was proved, however, in answer to this, that no one had 
been put upon short allowance ; and that, as if Providence had determined to 
afford an unequivocal proof of the guilt, a shower of rain fell and continued 
for three days immediately after the second lot of slaves had been destroyed, 
by means of which they might have filled many of their vessels with water, 
and thus have prevented all necessity for the destruction of the third. 

Mr. Sharp was present at this trial, and procured the attendance of a short 
hand writer to take down the facts which should come out in the course of it. 
These he gave to the public afterwards. He communicated them, also, with a 
copy of the trial, to the Lords of the Admiralty, as the guardians of justice 
upon the seas, and to the Duke of Portland, as principal minister of state. No 
notice, however, was taken by any of these of the information which had been 
thus sent them. But though nothing was done by the persons then in power, 
in consequence of the murder of so many innocent individuals, yet the publi 
cation of an account of it by Mr. Sharp, in the newspapers, made such an 
impression upon others that new coadjutors rose up. 


_ \ 

In the year 1T84, Dr. Gregory produced his "Essays Historical and Moral." 
He took an opportunity of disseminating in these a circumstantial knowledge 
of the slave-trade, and an equal abhorrence of it at the same time. He ex 
plained the manner of procuring slaves in Africa ; the treatment of them in 
the passage, (in which he mentioned the case of the ship Zong,) and the cruel 
treatment of them in the colonies. He recited and refuted also the various 
arguments adduced in defense of the trade. He showed that it vas destruc 
tive to seamen. He produced many weighty arguments also against slavery 
itself. He proposed clauses for an act of parliament for the abolition of 
both ; showing the good both to England and her colonies from such a meas 
ure, and that a trade might be substituted in Africa, in various articles for 
that which he proposed to suppress. 

In the same year, James Ramsay, vicar of Teston in Kent, became also an 
able, zealous, and indefatigable patron of the African cause. This gentleman 
had resided nineteen years in the island of St. Christopher, where he had 
observed the treatment of the slaves, and had studied the laws relating to 
them. On his return to England, yielding to his own feelings of duty, and 
the solicitations of some friends, he published a work which he called "An 
Essay on the Treatment and Conversion of the African Slaves in the British 
Sugar Colonies." After having given an account of the relative situation of 
master and slave in various parts of the world, he explained the low and de 
grading situation which the Africans held in society in the British islands. 
He showed that their importance would be increased, and the temporal inter 
est of their masters promoted, by giving them freedom, and by granting them 
other privileges. He showed the great difficulty of instructing them in the 
state in which they then were, and such as he himself had experienced both in 
his private and public attempts, and such as others had experienced also. He 
stated the way in which private attempts of this nature might probably be 
successful. He then answered all objections against their capacities, as drawn 
from philosophy, form, anatomy, and observation ; and vindicated these from 
his own experience. And lastly, he threw out ideas for the improvement of 
their condition, by the establishment of a greater number of spiritual pastors 
among them ; by giving them more privileges than they then possessed ; and 
by extending towards them the benefits of a proper police. Mr. Ramsay had 
no other motive for giving this work to the public than that of humanity, for 
he compiled it at the hazard of forfeiting that friendship which he had con 
tracted with many during his residence in the islands, and of suffering much in 
his private property, as well as subjecting himself to the ill-will and persecu 
tion of numerous individuals. 

The publication of this book by one who professed to have been so long resi 
dent in the islands, and to have been an eye-witness of facts, produced, as may 
easily be supposed, a good deal of conversation, and made a considerable im 
pression, but particularly at this time, when a storm was visibly gathering over 
the heads of the oppressors of the African race. 

In the year 1785, another advocate was seen in Monsieur Necker, in his eel- 


ebrated work on the French Finances, which had just been translated into the 
English language from the original work, in 1784. This virtuous statesman, 
after having given his estimate of the population and revenue of the French 
West Indian colonies, proceeds thus : " The colonies of France contain, as 
we have seen, near five hundred thousand slaves, and it is from the number of 
these poor wretches that the inhabitants set a value on their plantations. What 
a dreadful prospect 1 and how profound a subject for reflection ! Alas 1 how 
little are we both in our morality and our principles 1 We preach up human 
ity, and yet go every year to bind in chains twenty thousand natives of Africa ! 
We call the Moors barbarians and ruffians, because they attack the liberty of 
Europeans at the risk of their own ; yet these Europeans go, without danger, 
and as mere speculators, to purchase slaves by gratifying the avarice of their 
masters, and excite all those bloody scenes, which are the usual preliminaries 
of this traffic !" He goes on still further in the same strain. He then shows 
the kind of power which has supported this execrable trade. He throws out 
the idea of a general compact, by which all the European nations should agree 
to abolish it. And he indulges the pleasing hope that it may take place even 
in the present generation. 

In the same year we find other coadjutors coming before our view, but these 
in a line different from that in which any other belonging to this class had yet 
moved. Mr. George White, a clergyman of the established church, and Mr. 
John Chubb, suggested to Mr. William Tucket, the mayor of Bridgewater, 
where they resided, and to others of that town, the propriety of petitioning 
parliament for the abolition of the slave-trade. This petition was agreed up 
on, and when drawn up, was as follows : 

" The humble petition of the inhabitants of Bridgewater showeth : That 
your petitioners, reflecting with the deepest sensibility on the deplorable con 
dition of that part of the human species, the African negroes, who, by the 
most flagitious means, are reduced to slavery and misery in the British colonies, 
beg leave to address this honorable house in their behalf, and to express a just 
abhorrence of a system of oppression, which no prospect of private gain, no 
consideration of public advantage, no plea of political expediency, can suffi 
ciently justify or excuse. 

" That, satisfied as your petitioners are that this inhuman system meets with 
the general execration of mankind, they flatter themselves the day is not far 
distant when it will be universally abolished. And they most ardently hope to 
see a British parliament, by the extinction of that sanguinary traffic, extend the 
blessings of liberty to millions beyond this realm, hold up to an enlightened 
world a glorious and merciful example, and stand foremost in the defense of 
the violated rights of human nature." 

This petition was presented by the honorable members for the town of 
Bridgewater. It was ordered to lie on the table. The answer which these 
gentlemen gave to their constituents relative to the reception of it in the house 
of commons, is worthy of notice : " There did not appear," say they in their 
common letter, "the least disposition to pay any further attention to it. Every 


one says that the abolition of the slave-trade must immediately throw the West 
Indian islands into convulsions, and soon complete their utter ruin." 

Amongst others, the amiable and gifted Cowper did not fail to utter his sen 
timents in regard to the cruel system. Who has not been impressed by the 
following lines ? 

" We have no slaves at home then why abroad ? 

And they themselves once ferried o'er the wave 

That parts us, are emancipate and loos'd. 

Slaves cannot breathe in England ; if their lungs 

Receive our air, that moment they are free ; 

They touch our country, and their shackles fall. 

That 's noble, and bespeaks a nation proud 

And jealous of the blessing. Spread it then, 

And let it circulate through every vein 

Of all your empire that where Britain's pow'r 

Is felt, mankind may feel her mercy too." 

George Fox, the venerable founder of the society of the Quakers, took strong 
and decided ground against the slave-trade. He was cotemporary with Rich 
ard Baxter, being born not long after him, and dying much about the same 
time. When he was in the island of Barbadoes, in the year 1611, he delivered 
himself to those who attended his religious meetings in the following manner : 

" Consider with yourselves," says he, " if you were in the same condition as 
the poor Africans are, who came strangers to you, and were sold to you as 
slaves ; I say, if this should be the condition of you or yours, you would think 
it a hard measure ; yea, and very great bondage and cruelty ; and therefore con 
sider seriously of this ; and do you for them, and to them, as you would willingly 
have them, or any others do unto you, were you in the like slavish condition." 

In the year 1727, we find that the whole society, at a yearly meeting held in 
London, adopted the following resolution : " It is the sense of this meeting, 
that the importing of negroes from their native country and relations, by Friends, 
is not a commendable nor allowed practice, and is therefore censured by this 

In the year 1158, the Quakers thought it their duty, as a body, to pass an 
other resolution upon this subject. At this time the nature of the trade begin 
ning to be better known, we find them more animated upon it, &<* the following 
extract will show : 

"We fervently warn all in profession with us, that they carefully avoid be 
ing any way concerned in reaping the unrighteous profits arising from the in 
iquitous practice of dealing in negro or other slaves; whereby, in the original 
uurchase, one man selleth another, as he doth the beasts that perish, without any 
better pretension to a property in him than that of superior force ; in direct 
violation of the Gospel rule, which teacheth all to do as they would be done 
by, and to do good to all ; being the reverse of that covetous disposition which 
furnisheth encouragement to those poor ignorant people to perpetuate their 
savage wars, in order to supply the demands of this most unnatural traffic, by 
which great numbers of mankind, free by nature, are subject to inextricable 


- .''.'" ,?4_ -, , : v J.i_-_- 

bondage ; and which hath often been observed to fill their possessors with 
haughtiness, tyranny, luxury, and barbarity, corrupting the minds and debasing 
the morals of their children, to the unspeakable prejudice of religion and vir 
tue, and the exclusion of that holy spirit of universal love, meekness, and char 
ity, which is the unchangeable nature and the glory of true Christianity. We 
therefore can do no less than, with the greatest earnestness, impress it upon 
Friends every where, that they endeavor to keep their hands clear of this un 
righteous gain of oppression." 

At the yearly meeting of 1761, they agreed to exclude from membership 
such as should be found concerned in this trade ; and in the meeting of 1763, 
they endeavored to draw the cords still tighter, by attaching criminality to those 
who should aid and abet the trade in any manner. 

The society was now ready to make an appeal to others, and to bear a more 
public testimony in favor of the injured Africans. Accordingly, in the month 
of June, 1783, when a bill had been brought into the house of commons for 
certain regulations to be made with respect to the African trade, the society 
sent the following petition to that branch of the legislature : 

"Your petitioners, met in this their annual assembly, having solemnly consid 
ered the state of the enslaved negroes, conceive themselves engaged, in religious 
duty, to lay the suffering situation of that unhappy people before you, as a sub 
ject loudly calling for the humane interposition of the legislature. 

" Your petitioners regret that a nation professing the Christian faith, should 
so far counteract the principles of humanity and justice, as by the cruel treat 
ment of this oppressed race to fill their minds with prejudices against the mild 
and benificent doctrines of the Gospel. 

" Under the countenance of the laws of this country, many thousands of 
these our fellow-creatures, entitled to the natural rights of mankind, are held 
as personal property in cruel bondage ; and your petitioners being informed 
that a bill for the regulation of the African trade is now before the house, 
containing a clause which restrains the officers of the African company from 
exporting negroes, your petitioners, deeply affected with a consideration of the 
rapine, oppression, and bloodshed attending this traffic, humbly request that 
this restriction may be extended to all persons whomsoever, or that the house 
would grant such other relief in the premises as in its wisdom may seem meet." 

This petition was presented by Sir Cecil Wray, who, on introducing it, spoke 
very respectfully of the society. He declared his hearty approbation of their 
application, and said he hoped he should see the day when not a slave would 
remain within the dominions of this realm. Lord North seconded the motion, 
saying he could have no objection to the petition, and that its object ought to 
recommend it to every humane breast ; that it did credit to the most benevo 
lent society in the world ; but that, the session being so far advanced, the sub 
ject could not then be taken into consideration ; and he regretted that the slave- 
trade, against which the petition was so justly directed, was, in a commercial 
view, necessary to almost every nation of Europe. The petition was then 
brought up and read, after which it was ordered to lie on the table. This was 


the first petition (being two years earlier than that from the inhabitants of 
Bridgewater) which was ever presented to parliament for the abolition of the 

In the same year, 1783, an event occurred which will be found of great im 
portance, and in which only individuals belonging to the society were concerned. 
This event seems to have arisen naturally out of existing or past circumstances. 
For the society, as before stated, had sent a petition to parliament in this year, 
praying for the abolition of the slave-trade. It has also laid the foundation 
for a public distribution of books, which had been published with a view of en 
lightening others. The case of .the ship Zong had occurred this same year. 
A letter also had been presented, much about the same time, by Benjamin 
West, from Anthony Benezet, in America, to the Queen, in behalf of the in 
jured Africans, which she had received graciously. These subjects occupied at 
this time the attention of many Quaker families, and among others, that of a 
few individuals who were in close intimacy with each other. These, when they 
met together, frequently conversed upon them. They perceived, as facts came 
out in conversation, that there was a growing knowledge and hatred of the 
slave-trade, and that the temper of the times was ripening towards its aboli 
tion. Hence a disposition manifested itself among these, to unite as laborers 
for the furtherance of so desirable an object. An union was at length proposed 
and approved of. The first meeting was held on the seventh of July, It 83. 
At this "they assembled to consider what steps they should take for the relief 
and liberation of the negro slaves in the West Indies, and for the discourage 
ment of the slave-trade on the coast of Africa." 

To promote this object, they conceived it necessary that the public mind 
should be enlightened respecting it. They had recourse therefore to the pub 
lic papers, and they appointed their members in turn to write in these, and to 
see that their productions were inserted. They kept regular minutes for this 
purpose. It was not, however, known to the world that such an association 

This was the first society ever formed in England for the promotion of the 
abolition of the slave-trade. 

The Quakers in America early manifested a deep and compassionate feeling 
toward the afflicted African. It is true that, at first, they with others became 
the owners of slaves, the manner in which they were procured not being at that 
time generally known. Most of them, however, treated their slaves with great 
kindness. But notwithstanding their mildness toward them, and the conse 
quent content of their slaves, some of the society soon began to entertain 
doubts in regard to the lawfulness of holding the negroes in bondage at all. 

So early as in the year 1688, some emigrants from Krieshiem, in Germany, 
who had adopted the principles of William Penn, and followed him into Penn 
sylvania, urged in the yearly meeting of the society there, the inconsistency of 
buying, selling, and holding men in slavery, with the principles of the Christian 

In the year 1696, the yearly meeting for that province took up the subject 


as a public concern, and the result was advice to the members of it to guard 
against future importations of African slaves, and to be particularly attentive 
to the treatment of those who were then in their possession. 

In the year 1711, the same yearly meeting resumed the important subject, 
and confirmed and renewed the advice which had been before given. 

In the year IT 54, the same meeting issued a pertinent and truly Christian 
letter to all the members within its jurisdiction. This letter contained exhor 
tations to all in the connection to desist from purchasing and importing slaves, 
and, where they possessed them, to have a tender consideration of their condi 
tion. But that the first part of the subject of this exhortation might be en 
forced, the yearly meeting for the same provinces came to a resolution, in 1755, 
that if any of the members belonging to it bought or imported slaves, the 
overseers were to inform their respective monthly meetings of it, that " these 
might treat with them as they might be directed in the wisdom of truth. " 

In the year 1776, the same yearly meeting carried the matter still further. 
It was then enacted, " that the owner of slaves who refused to execute proper 
instruments for giving them their freedom, were to be disowned likewise." 

In 1778, it was enacted by the same meeting, "that the children of those 
who had been set free by members should be tenderly advised, and have a suit 
able education given them." 

Whilst the body were thus decisive in their measures, individuals of the so 
ciety were zealous and devoted in their endeavors to promote the same humane 
cause. Amongst these Anthony Benezet stands conspicuous. This distin 
guished philanthropist was born at St. Quintin, in Picardy, of a respectable 
family, in the year 1713. His father was one of the many protestants who, in 
consequence of the persecutions which followed the revocation of the edict of 
Nantz, sought an asylum in foreign countries. After a short stay in Holland, 
he settled, with his wife and children, in London, in 1715. 

Anthony Benezet, having received from his father a liberal education, served 
an apprenticeship in an eminent mercantile house in London. In 1731, how 
ever, he removed with his family to Philadelphia, where he joined in profession 
with the Quakers. His three brothers then engaged in trade, and made con 
siderable pecuniary acquisitions in it. He himself might have partaken of their 
prosperity, but he did not feel himself at liberty to embark in their undertak 
ings. He considered the accumulation of wealth as of no importance, when 
compared with the enjoyment of doing good ; and he chose the humble situa 
tion of a schoolmaster, as according best with his notion, believing that by en 
deavoring to train up youth in knowledge and virtue, he should become more 
extensively useful than in any other way to his fellow-creatures. He had not 
been long in his new situation before he manifested such an uprightness of con 
duct, such a courtesy of manners, such a purity of intention, and such a spirit 
of benevolence, that he attracted the notice, and gained the good opinion, of 
the inhabitants among whom he lived. He had ready access to them, in conse 
quence, upon all occasions ; and if there were any whom he failed to influence 
at any of these times, he never went away without the possession of their respect 


In the year 1756, when a considerable number of French families were re 
moved from Acadia into Pennsylvania, on account of some political suspicions, 
he felt deeply interested about them. In a country where few understood their 
language, they were wretched and helpless ; but Anthony Benezet endeavored 
to soften the rigor of their situation by his kind attention towards them. He 
exerted himself also in their behalf, by procuring many contributions for them, 
which, by the consent of his fellow-citizens, were entrusted to his care. 

One of the means which Anthony Benezet took to promote the cause in ques 
tion, (and an effectual one it proved, as far as it went,) was to give his scholars 
a due knowledge and proper impressions concerning it. Situated as they were 
likely to be, in after life, in a country where slavery was a custom, he thus pre 
pared many, and this annually, for the promotion of his plans. To enlighten 
others, and to give them a similar bias, he had recourse to different measures 
from time to time. In the almanacs published annually in Philadelphia, he 
procured articles to be inserted, which he believed would attract the notice of 
the reader, and make him pause, at least for a while, as to the lawfulness of 
the slave-trade. He wrote, also, as he saw occasion, in the public papers of 
the day. From small things he proceeded to greater. He collected, at length, 
further information on the subject, and, winding it up with observations and re 
flections, he produced several little tracts, which he circulated successively, (but 
generally at his own expense,) as he considered them adapted to the temper 
and circumstances of the times. In the course of this employment, having 
found some who had approved his tracts, and to whom, on that account, he 
wished to write, and sending his tracts to others, to whom he thought it proper 
to introduce them by letter, he found himself engaged in a correspondence 
which much engrossed his time, but which proved of great importance in pro 
curing many advocates for his cause. 

In the year 1762, when he had obtained a still greater store of information, 
he published a larger work. This he entitled, " A Short Account of that Part 
of Africa inhabited by the Negroes." In 1767, he published "A Caution and 
Warning to Great Britain and her Colonies, on the Calamitous State of the 
enslaved Negroes in the British Dominions ." and soon after this appeared 
" A Historical Account of Guinea, its Situation, Produce, and the General 
Disposition of its Inhabitants ; with an Inquiry into the Rise and Progress 
of the Slave-trade, its Nature, and Calamitous Effects." This pamphlet 
contained a clear and distinct development of the subject, from the best author 
ities. It contained also the sentiments of many enlightened men upon it ; and 
it became instrumental, beyond any other book ever before published, in dissem 
inating a proper knowledge and detestation of this trade. 

Anthony Benezet may be considered one of the most zealous, vigilant, and 
active advocates which the cause of the oppressed Africans ever had. He 
seemed to have been born and to have lived for the promotion of it, and there 
fore he never omitted any the least opportunity of serving it. If -a person 
called upon him who was going a journey, his first thoughts usually were, how 
he could make him an instrument in its favor ; and he either gave him tracts to 


distribute, or he sent letters by him, or he gave him some commission on the 
subject, so that he was the means of employing several persons at the same 
time, in various parts of America, in advancing the work he had undertaken. 

In the same manner he availed himself of every other circumstance, as far 
as he could, to the same end. When he heard that Mr. Granville Sharp had 
obtained, in the year IT 7 2, the verdict in the case of Somerset, the slave, he 
opened a correspondence with him, which he kept up, that there might be an 
union of action between them for the future, as far as it could be effected, and 
that they might each give encouragement to the other to proceed. 

He wrote also a letter to the Countess of Huntingdon on the following sub 
ject : She had founded a college, at the recommendation of George White- 
field, called the Orphan-house, near Savannah, in Georgia, and had endowed 
it. The object of this institution was to furnish scholastic instruction to the 
poor, and to prepare some of them for the ministry. George Whitefield, ever 
attentive to the cause of the poor Africans, thought that this institution might 
have been useful to them also ; but soon after his death, they who succeeded 
him bought slaves, and these in unusual numbers, to extend the rice and indigo 
plantations belonging to the college. The letter then in question was written 
by Anthony Benezet, in order to lay before the countess, as a religious woman, 
the misery she was occasioning in Africa, by allowing the managers of her col 
lege in Georgia to give encouragement to the slave-trade. The countess re 
plied that such a measure should never have her countenance, and that she 
would take care to prevent it. 

On discovering that the Abbe" Raynal had brought out his celebrated work, 
in which he manifested a tender feeling in behalf of the injured Africans, he 
entered into a correspondence with him, hoping to make him yet more useful 
to their cause. 

Finding, also, in the year IT 83, that the slave-trade, which had greatly de 
clined during the war, was reviving, he addressed a pathetic letter to the queen, 
who, on hearing the high character of the writer of it from Benjamin West, 
received it with marks of peculiar condescension and attention. The following 
is a copy of it : 

" Impressed with a sense of religious duty, and encouraged by the opinion 
generally entertained of thy benevolent disposition to succor the distressed, I 
take the liberty, very respectfully, to offer to thy perusal some tracts, which I 
believe faithfully describe the suffering condition of many hundred thousand? 
of our fellow-creatures of the African race, great numbers of whom, rent froir 
every tender connection in life, are annually taken from their native land, to 
endure, in the American islands and plantations, a most rigorous and cruel 
slavery ; whereby many, very many of them, are brought to a melancholy ana 
untimely end. 

" When it is considered that the inhabitants of Great Britain, who are them 
selves so eminently blessed in the enjoyment of religious and civil liberty, have 
long been, and yet are, very deeply concerned in this flagrant violation of the 


common rights of mankind, and that even its national authority is exerted in 
support of the African slave-trade, there is much reason to apprehend that 
this has been, and, as long as the evil exists, will continue to be, an occasion 
of drawing down the Divine displeasure on the nation and its dependencies. 
May these considerations induce thee to interpose thy kind endeavors in behalf 
of this greatly injured people, whose abject situation gives them an additional 
claim to the pity and assistance of the generous mind, inasmuch as they are 
altogether deprived of the means of soliciting effectual relief for themselves 5 
that so thou mayest not only be a blessed instrument in the hand of Him ' by 
whom kings reign and princes decree justice,' to avert the awful judgments by 
which the empire has already been so remarkably shaken, but that the blessings 
of thousands ready to perish may come upon thee, at a time when the superior 
advantages attendant on thy situation in this world will no longer be of any 
avail to thy consolation and support. 

" To the tracts on this subject to which I have thus ventured to crave thy 
particular attention, I have added some which at different times I have be 
lieved it my. duty to publish,* and which, I trust, will afford thee some satisfac 
tion, their design being for the furtherance of that universal peace and good 
will amongst men, which the gospel was intended to introduce. 

" I hope thou wilt kindly excuse the freedom used on this occasion by an 
ancient man, whose mind, for more than forty years past, has been much 
separated from the common intercourse of the world, and long painfully exer 
cised in the consideration of the miseries under which so large a part of man 
kind, equally with us the objects of redeeming love, are suffering the most 
unjust and grievous oppressions, and who sincerely desires thy temporal and 
eternal felicity, and that of thy royal consort. ANTHONY BENEZET." 

Anthony Benezet, besides the care he bestowed upon forwarding the cause 
of the oppressed Africans in different parts of the world, found time to pro 
mote the comforts and improve the condition of those in the state in which he 
lived. Apprehending that much advantage would arise both to them and the 
public, from instructing them in common learning, he zealously promoted the 
establishment of a school for that purpose. Much of the two last years of his 
life he devoted to a personal attendance on this school, being earnestly desirous 
that they who came to it might be better qualified for the enjoyment of that 
freedom to which great numbers of them had been then restored. To this he 
sacrificed the superior emoluments of his former school, and his bodily ease 
also, although the weakness of his constitution seemed to demand indulgence. 
By his last will he directed, that after the decease of his widow, his whole 
little fortune, the savings of the industry of fifty years, should, except a few 
very small legacies, be applied to the support of it. During his attendance 
upon it he had the happiness to find, and his situation enabled him to make 
the comparison, that Providence had been equally liberal to the Africans in 
genius and talents as to other people. 

* These related to the principles of the religious society of the Quakers. 




After a few days illness this excellent man died at Philadelphia in the spring 
of 1784. The interment of his remains was attended by several thousand of 
all ranks, professions, and parties, who united in deploring their loss. The 
mournful procession was closed by some hundreds of those poor Africans, who 
had been personally benefited by his labors, and whose behavior on the occa 
sion showed the gratitude and affection they considered to be due to him as 
their own private benefactor, as well as the benefactor of their whole race. 

Others in America beside the Quakers, early took the part of the oppress - 
ed Africans. In the first part of the eighteenth century, Judge Sewall, of 
New England, came forward as a zealous advocate for them. He addressed a 
memorial to the legislature, which he called The Selling of Joseph, and in 
which he pleaded their cause both as a lawyer and a Christian. This memo 
rial produced an effect upon many, but particularly upon those of his own per 
suasion ; and from this time the Presbyterians appear to have encouraged a 
sympathy in their favor. 

In the year 1739, the celebrated George Whitefield became an instrument 
in turning the attention of many others to their condition, and of begetting in 
these a fellow-sympathy towards them. This laborious minister, having been 
deeply affected with what he had seen in the course of his travels in America, 
thought it his duty to address a letter from Georgia to the inhabitants of 
Maryland, Virginia, and North and South Carolina. This letter was printed 
in the year above mentioned, and is in part as follows : 

" As I lately passed through your provinces on my way hither, I was sen 
sibly touched with a fellow-feeling for the miseries of the poor negroes. 
Whether it be lawful for Christians to buy slaves, and thereby encourage the 
nations from whom they are bought to be at perpetual war with each other, I 
shall not take upon me to determine. Sure I am it is sinful, when they have 
bought them, to use them as bad as though they were brutes, nay, worse ; and 
whatever particular exceptions there may be, (as I would charitably hope there 
are some,) I fear the generality of you, who own negroes, are liable to such a 
charge ; for your slaves, I believe, work as hard, if not harder, than the horses 
whereon you ride. These, after they have done their work, are fed and taken 
proper care of ; but many negroes, when wearied with labor on your plantations, 
have been obliged to grind their corn after their return home. Your dogs are 
caressed and fondled at your table ; but your slaves, who are frequently called 
dogs or beasts, have not an equal privilege. They are scarce permitted to 
pick up the crumbs which fall from their master's table ; not to mention what 
numbers have been given up to the inhuman usage of cruel task-masters, who, 
by their unrelenting scourges, have plowed their backs, and made long fur 
rows, and at length brought them even unto death. When passing along I 
have viewed your plantations cleared and cultivated, many spacious houses 
built, and the owners of them faring sumptuously every day, my blood has fre 
quently almost run cold within me, to consider how many of your slaves had 
neither convenient food to eat nor proper raiment to put on, notwithstanding 
most of the comforts you enjoy were solely owing to their indefatigable labors." 


The letter, from which this is an extract, produced a desirable effect upon 
many of those who perused it, but particularly upon such as began to be 
seriously disposed in those times. And as George Whitefield continued a 
firm friend to the Africans, never losing an opportunity of serving them, he 
interested, in the course of his useful life, many thousands of his followers in 
their favor. 

In the year 1772, a disposition favorable to the oppressed Africans became 
very generally manifest in some of the American Provinces. The house o, 
burgesses of Virginia even presented a petition to the king, beseeching his 
majesty to remove all those restraints on his governors of that colony, which 
inhibited their assent to such laws as might check that inhuman and impolitic 
commerce, the slave-trade : and it is remarkable that the refusal of the British 
government to permit the colonists to exclude slaves from among them by law, 
was enumerated afterwards among the public reasons for separating from the 
mother country. 

In allusion to the fact just stated, Mr. Jefferson, in his draft of the Declara 
tion of Independence, said : " He (the king of England) has waged civil war 
against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and^ liberty, 
in the persons of a distant people, who never offended him ; captivating, and 
carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death 
in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of 
infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian king of Great Britain : deter 
mined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold, he 
prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or 
to restrain this execrable commerce ; and, that this assemblage of horrors 
might want no fact of distinguished dye, he is now exciting those very people 
to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has de 
prived them, by murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them, thus 
paying off former crimes, committed against the liberties of one people, with 
crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another." (See 
the fac-simile of this draft in Jefferson's Correspondence.) But this passage 
was struck out when the Declaration of Independence was adopted. 

But the friendly disposition was greatly increased in the year 1773, by the 
literary labors of Dr. Benjamin Rush, of Philadelphia. In this year, at the 
instigation of Anthony Benezet, he took up the cause of the oppressed Afri 
cans in a little work, which he entitled An Address to the Inhabitants of the 
British Settlements on the Slavery of the Negroes; and soon afterward? in 
another, which was a vindication of the first, in Answer to an acrimonious 
attack by a West Indian planter. These publications contained many new 
observations. They were written in a polished style ; and while they exhibited 
the erudition and talents, they showed the liberality and benevolence of the 
author. Having had considerable circulation, they spread conviction among 
many, and promoted the cause for which they had been so laudably under 



In the next year, or in the year 1114,* the increased good- will towards the 
Africans became so apparent, but more particularly in Pennsylvania, where 
the Quakers were more numerous than in any other state, that they, who con 
sidered themselves more immediately as the friends of those injured people, 
thought it right to avail themselves of it : and accordingly James Pembertou, 
one of the most conspicuous of the Quakers in Pennsylvania, and Dr. Rush, 
one of the most conspicuous of those belonging to the various other religious 
communities in that province, undertook, in conjunction with others, the im 
portant task of bringing those into society who were friendly to this cause. 
In this undertaking they succeeded. This society, which was confined to 
Pennsylvania, was the first ever formed in America, in which there was a union 
of persons of different religious denominations in behalf of the African race. 

But this society had scarcely bugun to act, when the war broke out between 
England and America, which had the effect of checking its operations. This 
was considered as a severe blow upon it. But as those things which appear 
most to our disadvantage turn out often the most to our benefit, so the war, by 
giving birth to the independence of America, was ultimately favorable to its 
progress. For as this contest had produced during its continuance, so it left, 
when it was over, a general enthusiasm for liberty. Many talked of little 
else but of the freedom they had gained. These were naturally led to the con 
sideration of those among them who were groaning in bondage. They began 
to feel for their hard case. They began to think that they should not deserve 
the new blessing which they had acquired, if they denied it to others. Thus 
the discussions which originated in this contest, became the occasion of turn 
ing the attention of many, who might not otherwise have thought of it, 
toward the miserable condition of the slaves. 

Nor were writers wanting, who, influenced by considerations on the war and 
the independence resulting from it, made their works subservient to the same 
benevolent end. A work entitled, A Serious Address to the Eiders of 
America on the Inconsistency of their Conduct respecting Slavery, form 
ing a Contrast between the Encroachments of England on American Lib 
erty and American Injustice in tolerating Slavery, which appeared in 1183, 
was particularly instrumental in producing this effect. This excited a more 
than usual attention to the case of these oppressed people, and where most of 
all it could be useful. For the author compared in two opposite columns the 
animated speeches and resolutions of the members of congress in behalf of 
their own liberty with their conduct in continuing slavery to others. Hence 
congress began to feel the inconsistency of the practice ; and so far had the 
sense of this inconsistency spread, that when the delegates met from each 
state to consider of a federal union, there was a desire that the abolition of 
the slave-trade should be one of the articles of it. This was, however, op- 

*In this- year, Elhanan Winchester, a supporter of the doctrine of universal redemp 
tion, turned the attention of many of his hearers to this subject, both by private con 
ference and by preaching expressly upon it. 


posed by the delegates from North and South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, 
and Georgia, the five states which had the greatest interest in slaves. But 
even these offered to agree to the article, provided a condition was annexed to 
it, which was afterwards done, that such abolition should not commence till 
the first of January, 1808. 

In consequence of these circumstances, the society of Pennsylvania, the 
object of which was " for promoting the abolition of slavery and the relief of 
free negroes unlawfully held in bondage," became so popular, that in the year 
1787, it was thought desirable to enlarge it. Accordingly, several new mem 
bers were admitted into it. The celebrated Dr. Franklin, who had long 
warmly espoused the cause of the injured Africans, was appointed President ; 
James Pemberton and Jonathan Penrose were appointed Yice-Presidents ; 
Dr. Benjamin Rush and Tench Coxe, Secretaries; James Star, Treasurer.* 



Thomas Clarkson, the historian of the Abolition of the Slave Trade. Devotes his life 
to the cause, 1785. Publishes his Essay on Slavery. His coadjutors. William Wil- 
berforce, parliamentary leader in the cause. Middleton, Dr. Porteus, Lord Sears- 
dale, Granville Sharp. Clarkson's first visit to a slave-ship. Association formed. 
Correspondence opened in Europe and America. Petitions sent to Parliament. Com 
mittee of Privy Council ordered by the King, 1788. Great exertions of the friends 
of the cause. Clarkson's interview with Pitt. 

JL HE historian of the Abolition of the Slave Trade by the British Parlia 
ment was Mr. Thomas Clarkson. He was among the warmest supporters of 
the sacred cause, and from the year 1785 he devoted his life to it. The vari 
ous measures pursued to promote it, were registered at the time, either by 
himself or the committee with whom he acted. Not the shadow of a doubt 
has ever been expressed as to the authenticity of his work, and we cannot pre 
sent information on this subject in a more satisfactory manner than by giving 
the reader a concise abridgement of the work itself. 

Besides Mr. Clarkson, there was another individual of whose mind the sub 
ject took a deep hold. This was William Wilberforce. In October, 1757, 
he entered upon his journal that "the Almighty had placed before him the 
great object of the abolition of the slave-trade." Clarkson and Wilberforce, 
the twin spirits of the movement, were soon able to form a powerful confeder 
acy, including men of all parties, and to impress the mind of the nation. 

Dr. Peckard, master of Magdalen College, in the University of Cambridge, 

* Abridged from Clarkson's History. 


had not only censured the slave-trade in the severest manner, in a sermon 
preached before the University, but when he became vice-chancellor of it, in 
If 85, he gave out the following subject for one of the Latin dissertations : "Is 
it right to make slaves of others against their will ? " At this time Mr. Clark- 
son, who had obtained the prize for the best essay the preceding year, deter 
mined to become again a candidate. He took prodigious pains to make 
himself master of the subject, as far as the time would. allow, both by reading, 
and conversing with many persons who had been in Africa. Having completed 
his Latin essay, and sent it in to the vice-chancellor, he soon found himself 
honored with the first prize. The subject of the essay so entirely engrossed 
his thoughts that he became seriously affected. He tried to persuade himself 
that the contents of the essay were not true. The more, however, he reflected 
upon his authorities, the more he gave them credit, until he finally became con 
vinced that it was the duty of some one to endeavor to mitigate the sufferings 
of the unhappy Africans. He finally resolved to devote his own life to the 
cause. When this resolution was formed he was but twenty-four years of age, 
and he considered his youth and want of knowledge of the world as a great 
obstacle. He thought, however, that there was one way in which he might 
begin to be useful ; by translating his Latin essay, and publishing it in Eng 

Of this period of his life and labors he says : "In the course of the autumn 
of this year (1785), I walked frequently into the woods that I might think on 
the subject of the slave-trade in solitude. But there the question still occurred, 
' Are these things true ? ' Still the answer followed as instantaneously, ' They 
are.' Still the result accompanied it, 'Then surely some person should inter 
fere.' I then began to envy those who had seats in parliament, and who had 
great riches, and widely extended connexions, which would enable them to take 
up this cause. Finding scarcely any one at that time who thought of it, I was 
turned frequently to myself. But here many difficulties arose. It struck me, 
among others, that a young man of only twenty-four years of age could not 
have that solid judgment, or knowledge of men, manners, and things, which 
were requisite to qualify him to undertake a task of such magnitude and im 
portance ; and with whom was I to unite ? I believed also that it looked so 
much like one of the feigned labors of Hercules, that my understanding 
would be suspected if I proposed it. On ruminating, however, on the sub 
ject, I found one thing at least practicable, and that this also was in my power. 
I could translate my Latin dissertation. I could enlarge it usefully. I could 
see how the public received it, or how far they were likely to favor any serious 
measures, which should have a tendency to produce the abolition of the slave- 
trade. Upon this, then, I determined ; and in the middle of the month of 
November, IT 85, I began my work. By the middle of January I had finished 
half of it, though I had made considerable additions. I now thought of en 
gaging with some bookseller to print it when finished. For this purpose I 
called upon Mr. Cadell, in the Strand, and consulted him about it. He said 
that as the original essay had been honored by the University of Cambridge 

- * 


with the first prize, this circumstance would insure it a respectable circulation 
among persons of taste. I own I was not much pleased with his opinion. I 
wished the essay to find its way among useful people, and among such as would 
think and act with me. Accordingly I left Mr. Cadell, after having thanked 
him for his civility, and determined, as I thought I had time sufficient before 
dinner, to call upon a friend in the city. In going past the Royal Exchange, 
Mr. Joseph Hancock, one of the religious society of the Quakers, and witl 
whose family my own had been long united in friendship, suddenly met me 
He first accosted me by saying that I was the person whom he was wishing to 
see. He then asked me why I had not published my prize essay. I asked 
him in return what had made him think of that subject in particular. He re 
plied, that his own society had long taken it up as a religious body, and 
individuals among them were wishing to find me out. I asked him who. He 
answered, James Phillips, a bookseller, in George-yard, Lombard street, and 
William Dillwyn, of Walthamstow, and others. Having but little time to 
spare, I desired him to introduce me to one of them. In a few minutes he 
took me to James Phillips, who was then the only one of them in town, by 
whose conversation I was so much interested and encouraged, that without any 
further hesitation I offered him the publication of my work. This accidental 
introduction of me to James Phillips was, I found afterwards, a most happy 
circumstance for the promotion of the cause which I had then so deeply at 
heart, as it led me to the knowledge of several of those who became after 
wards material coadjutors in it. It was also of great importance to me with 
respect to the work itself, for he possessed an acute penetration, a solid judg 
ment, and a literary knowledge, which he proved by the many alterations and 
additions he proposed, and which I believe I uniformly adopted, after mature 
consideration, from a sense of their real value. It was advantageous to me 
also, inasmuch as it led me to his friendship, which was never interrupted but 
by his death. 

" On my second visit to James Phillips, at which time I brought him about 
half my manuscript for the press, I desired him to introduce me to William 
Dillwyn, as he had also mentioned him to me on my first visit, and as I had not 
seen Mr. Hancock since. Matters were accordingly arranged, and a day ap 
pointed before I left him. On this day I had my first interview with my new 
friend. Two or three others of his own religious society were present, but who 
they were I do not now recollect. There seemed to be a great desire among 
them to know the motive by which I had been actuated in contending for the 
prize. I told them frankly that I had no motive but that which other young 
men in the University had on such occasions, namely, the wish of being distin 
guished, or of obtaining literary honor ; but that I had felt so deeply on the 
subject of it, that I had lately interested myself in it from a motive of duty. 
My conduct seemed to be highly approved by those present, and much conver 
sation ensued, but it was of a general nature. 

" As William Dillwyn wished very much to see me at his house at Waltham- 
itow, I appointed the thirteenth of March to spend the day with him there 


We talked for the most part, during my stay, on the subject of my essay. I 
soon discovered the treasure I had met with in his local knowledge, both of the 
slave-trade and of slavery, as they existed in the United States, and I gained 
from him several facts, which, with his permission, I afterwards inserted in my 
work. But how surprised was I to hear, in the course of our conversation, of 
the labors of Granville Sharp, of the writings of Ramsay, and of the controver 
sy in which the latter was engaged, of all which I had hitherto known nothing. 
How surprised was I to learn, that William Dillwyn himself had two years be 
fore associated himself with five others for the purpose of enlightening the 
public mind upon this great subject. How astonished was I to find that a 
society had been formed in America for the same object, with some of the prin 
cipal members of which he was intimately acquainted. And how still more 
astonished at the inference which instantly rushed upon my mind, that he was 
capable of being made the great medium of connection between them all. 
These thoughts almost overpowered me. I believe that after this I talked but 
little more to my friend. My mind was overwhelmed with the thought that I 
had been providentially directed to his house ; that the finger of Providence 
was beginning to be discernible ; that the day-star of African liberty was rising^ 
and that probably I might be permitted to become an humble instrument in 
promoting it. 

" In the course of attending to my work, as now in the press, James Phillipa 
introduced me also to Granville Sharp, with whom I had afterwards many in 
teresting interviews from time to time, and whom I discovered to be a distant 
relation by my father's side. He introduced me also by letter to a correspond 
ence with Mr. Ramsay, who in a short time afterwards came to London to see 
me. He introduced me also to his cousin, Richard Phillips, of Lincoln's Inn, 
who was at that time on the point of joining the religious society of the Qua 
kers. In him I found much sympathy, and a willingness to cooperate with me. 
When dull and disconsolate, he encouraged me. When in spirits, he stimulated 
me further. Him I am now to mention as a new, but soon afterwards as an 
active and indefatigable coadjutor in the cause. I shall only now add that my 
work was at length printed ; that it was entitled, An Essay on the Slavery and 
Commerce of the Human Species, particularly the African, translated from a 
Latin Dissertation, which was honored with the First Prize in the University 
of Cambridge, for the year 1785; with Additions; and that it was ushered 
into the world in the month of June, 1786, or in abput a year after it had 
)een read in the senate house in its first form. 

" I had long had the honor of the friendship of Mr. Bennet Langton, and I 
determined to carry him one of my books, and to interest his feelings in it, 
with a view of procuring his assistance in the cause. Mr. Langton was a 
gentleman of an ancient family and respectable fortune, in Lincolnshire, but 
resided then in Queen 's-square, Westminster. He was known as the friend of 
Dr. Johnson, Jonas Hanway, Edmund Burke, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and oth 
ers. Among his acquaintance indeed were most of the literary, and eminent 
professional, and public-spirited men of the times. At court, also, he was 


well known, and had the esteem of his majesty, with whom he frequently con 
versed. His friends were numerous, also, in both houses of the legislature. 
As to himself, he was much noted for his learning, but most of all for the 
great example he gave with respect to the usefulness and integrity of his life. 
By introducing my work to the sanction of a friend of such high character 
and extensive connexions, I thought I should be doing great things. And so 
the event proved. For when I went to him after he had read it, I found that 
it had made a deep impression upon his mind. As a friend to humanity, he 
lamented over the miseries of the oppressed Africans, and over the crimes of 
their tyrants as a friend to morality and religion. He cautioned me, however, 
against being too sanguine in my expectations, as so many thousands were 
interested in continuing the trade. Justice, however, which he said weighed 
with him beyond all private or political interest, demanded a public inquiry, 
and he would assist me to the utmost of his power in my attempts towards it. 
From this time he became a zealous and active coadjutor in the cause, and 
continued so to the end of his valuable life. 

" I had now Sir Cha.rles Middleton, who was in the House of Commons. I 
was sure of Dr. Porteus, who was in the House of Lords. I could count 
upon Lord Scarsdale, who was a peer also. I had secured Mr. Langton, who 
had a most extensive acquaintance with members of both houses of the Icgi.-,- 
lature. I had also secured Dr. Baker, who had similar connexions. I could 
depend upon Granville Sharp, James Phillips, Richard Phillips, Ramsay, 
Dillwyn, and the little committee to which he belonged, as well as the whole 
society of the Quakers. I thought, therefore, upon the whole, that, consider 
ing the short time I had been at work, I was well off with respect to support. 
I believed, also, that there were still several of my own acquaintance whom I 
could interest in the question, and I did not doubt that by exerting myself 
diligently, persons who were then strangers to me would be raised up in time. 
I considered next, that it was impossible for a great cause like this to be for 
warded without large pecuniary funds. I questioned whether some thousand 
pounds would not be necessary, and from whence was such a sum to come ? 
In answer to this, I persuaded myself that generous people would be found 
who would unite with me in contributing their mite towards the undertaking, 
and I seemed confident that as the Quakers had taken up the cause as a reli 
gious body, they would not be behind hand in supporting it. I considered 
lastly, that if I took up the question I must devote myself wholly to it. I 
was sensible that a little labor now and then would be inadequate to the pur 
pose, or that where the interests of so many thousand persons were likely to 
be affected, constant exertion would be necessary. I felt certain that if ever 
the matter were to be taken up, there could be no hope of success, except it 
should be takemip by some one who would make it an object or business of 
his life. I thought, too, that a man's life might not be more than adequate to 
the accomplishment of the end. But I knew of no one who could devote 
such a portion of time to it. Sir Charles Middleton, though he was so warm 
and zealous, wns greatly occupied in the discharge of his office. Mr. Langtou 


spent a great portion of his time in the education of his children. Dr. Baker 
had a great deal to do in the performance of his parochial duty. The Qua 
kers were almost all of them in trade. I could look, therefore, to no person 
but myself; and the question was, whether I was prepared to make the sacri 
fice. In favor of the undertaking I urged to myself, that never was any cause 
which had been taken up by man in any country, or in any age, so great and 
important ; that never was there one in which so much misery was heard to 
cry for redress ; that never was there one in which so much good could be 
done ; never one in which the duty of Christian charity could be so extensively 
exercised ; never one more worthy of the devotion of a whole life towards it ; 
and that, if a man thought properly, he ought to rejoice to have been called 
into existence, if he were only permitted to become an instrument in forward 
ing it in any part of its progress. Against these sentiments on the other 
hand I had to urge, that I had been designed for the church ; that I had 
already advanced as far as deacon's orders in it ; that my prospects there on 
account of my connexions were then brilliant ; that by appearing to desert my 
profession my family would be dissatisfied, if not unhappy. These thoughts 
pressed upon me, and rendered the conflict difficult. But the sacrifice of my 
prospects staggered me, I own, the most. When the other objections, which 
I have related, occurred to me, my enthusiasm instantly, like a flash of light 
ning, consumed them ; but this stuck to me and troubled me. I had ambition. 
I had a thirst after worldly interest and honors, and I could not extinguish it 
at once. I was more than two hours in solitude under this painful conflict. 
At length I yielded, not because I saw any reasonable prospect of success in 
my new undertaking, (for all cool-headed and cool-hearted men would have pro 
nounced against it,) but in obedience, I believe, to a higher power. And this 
I can say, that both on the moment of this resolution, and for some time after 
wards, I had more sublime and happy feelings than at any former period of 
my life. 

" The distribution of my books having been consigned to proper hands, I 
began to qualify myself by obtaining further knowledge for the management 
of this great cause. As I had obtained the principal part of it from reading, 
I thought I ought now to see what could be seen, and to know from living 
persons what could be known on the subject. With respect to the first of 
these points, the river Thames presented itself as at hand. Ships were going 
occasionally from the port of London to Africa, and why could I not get on 
board them and examine for myself? After diligent inquiry, I heard of one 
which had just arrived. I found her to be a little wood vessel, called the 
Lively, captain Williamson, or one which traded to Africa in the natural pro 
ductions of the country, such as ivory, beeswax, Malaguetta pepper, palm-oil 
and dye-woods. I obtained specimens of some of these, so that I now be 
came possessed of some of those things of which I had only read before. On 
conversing with the mate, he showed me one or two pieces of the cloth made 
by the natives, and from their own cotton. I prevailed upon him to sell me a 
piece of each. Here new feelings arose, and particularly when I considered 


tnat persons of so much apparent ingenuity, and capable of such beautiful 
work as the Africans, should be made slaves, and reduced to a level with the 
brute creation. My reflections here on the better use which might be made 
of Africa by the substitution of another trade, and on the better use which 
might be made of her inhabitants, served greatly to animate and to sustain me 
against the labor of my pursuits. 

" The next vessel I boarded was the Fly, captain Cooley. Here I found 
myself for the first time on the deck of a slave vessel. The sight of the rooms 
below and of the gratings above, and of the barricado across the deck, and 
the explanation of the uses of all these, filled me both with melancholy and 
horror. I found soon afterwards a fire of indignation kindled within me. I 
had now scarce patience to talk with those on board. I had not the coolness 
this first time to go leisurely over the places that were open to me. I got 
away quickly. But that which I thought I saw horrible in this vessel had the 
same effect upon me as that which I thought I had seen agreeable in the other, 
namely, to animate and to invigorate me in my pursuit. 

" But I will not trouble the reader with any further account of my water 
expeditions, while attempting to perfect my knowledge upon this subject. I 
was equally assiduous in obtaining intelligence wherever it could be had ; and 
being now always on the watch, I was frequently falling in with individuals 
from whom I gained something. My object was to see all who had been in 
Africa, but more particularly those who had never been interested, or who at 
any rate were not then interested in the trade. I gained, accordingly, access 
very early to general Rooke ; to lieutenant Dalrymple, of the army ; to cap 
tain Fiddes, of the engineers ; to the reverend Mr. Newton ; to Mr. Nisbett, 
a surgeon in the Minories ; to Mr. Devaynes, who was then in parliament, and 
to many others ; and I made it a rule to put down in writing, after every con 
versation, what had taken place in the course of it. By these means things 
began to unfold themselves to me more and more, and I found my stock of 
knowledge almost daily on the increase. 

While, however, I was forwarding this, I was not inattentive to the other 
object of my pursuit, which was that of waiting upon members personally. 
The first I called upon was Sir Richard Hill. At the first interview he espoused 
the cause. I waited then upon others, and they professed themselves friendly ; 
but they seemed to make this profession more from the emotion of good hearts, 
revolting at the bare mention of the slave-trade, than from any knowledge con 
cerning it. One, however, whom I visited, Mr. Powys, (the late Lord Lilford,) 
with whom I had been before acquainted in Northamptonshire, seemed to 
doubt some of the facts in my book, from a belief that human nature was not 
capable of proceeding to such a pitch of wickedness. I asked him to name 
his facts. He selected the case of the hundred and thirty-two slaves who were 
thrown alive into the sea to defraud the underwriters. I promised to satisfy 
him fully upon this point, and went immediately to Granville Sharp, who lent 
me his account of the trial, as reported at large from the notes of the short 
hand writer whom he had employed on the occasion. Mr. Powys read the 


account. He became, in consequence of it, convinced, as, indeed, he could not 
otherwise be, of the truth of what I had asserted, and he declared at, the same 
time that, if this were true, there was nothing so horrible related of this trade, 
which might not immediately be believed. Mr. Povvys had been always friend 
ly to this question, but now he took a part in the distribution of my books. 

"Among those whom I visited, was Mr. Wilberforce. On my first interview 
with him, he stated frankly, that the subject had often employed his thoughts, 
and that it was near his heart. He seemed earnest about it, and also very 
desirous of taking the trouble of inquiring further into it. Having read my 
book, which I had delivered to him in person, he sent for me. He expressed 
a wish that I would make him acquainted with some of my authorities for the 
assertions in it, which I did afterwards to his satisfaction. He asked me if I 
could support it by any other evidence. I told him I could. I mentioned 
Mr. Newton, Mr. Nisbett, and several others to him. He took the trouble of 
sending for all these. He made memoranda of their conversation, and, send 
ing for me afterwards, showed them to me. On learning my intention to 
devote myself to the cause, he paid me many handsome compliments. He 
then desired me to call upon him often, and to acquaint him with my progress 
from time to time. He expressed also his willingness to afford me any assist 
ance in his power in the prosecution of my pursuits." 

Mr. Wilberforce finally pledged himself to bring forward the great question 
of the abolition of the slave-trade, in the House of Commons, as soon as he 
could prepare himself for so tremendous a task. The matter now assumed a 
new shape. A parliamentary leader had been secured, and one whose virtuous 
life corresponded with the sacredness of the cause he was to advocate. The 
friends of the cause formed themselves into an association, raised funds, and 
appointed a committee to procure information and select evidence. Mr. Clark- 
son was to visit Liverpool, Bristol, and other slave ports, to increase his own 
knowledge of the subject, and to procure evidence, in case parliament should 
call for witnesses. He was absent five months, and returned to London in 
December, 1787. Meantime, the committee had opened an extensive corres 
pondence throughout England, Scotland, and America. They circulated docu 
ments, and addressed by letter all the corporate bodies of the kingdom. Tokens 
of approbation and promises of support flowed in upon them. From France, 
letters of encouragement were received from the Marquis de La Fayette, and 
the afterwards celebrated Brissot and Claviere. La Fayette informed the 
committee that he should attempt the formation of a similar society in France. 
Of the indefatigable labors and untiring faithfulness of the committee, th 
following summary will give some idea : From May, 1787, to July, 1788, they 
had held no less than fifty-one meetings. These generally occupied them from 
about six in the evening till about eleven at night. In the intervals between 
the meetings they were often occupied, having each of them some object com 
mitted to his charge. It is remarkable, too, that though they were all, except 
one, engaged in business or trade, and though they had the same calls as other 
men for innocent recreation, and the same interruptions of their health, there 


were individuals who were not absent more than five or six times within this 
period. In the course of the thirteen months, during which they had exercised 
this public trust, they had printed, and afterwards distributed, not at random, 
but judiciously, and through respectable channels, (besides twenty-six thousand 
five hundred and twenty-six reports, accounts of debates in parliament, and 
other small papers,) no less than fifty-one thousand four hundred and thirty- 
two pamphlets, or books. 

Thus commenced the great struggle which was destined to last for a period 
of twenty years ; a struggle with the gigantic commercial interest of Liverpool, 
Bristol, and other ports, and the proprietors of the West India plantations. 

Up to the month of February, 1788, thirty-five petitions had been presented 
to parliament, in favor of abolishing the trade. These proceedings produced 
such an effect upon the government, that the king was advised to order a com 
mittee of privy council to inquire into the nature of the slave-trade. This 
was dated February 11, 1788, and required the committee "to take into their 
consideration the present state of the African trade, particularly as far as 
related to the practice and manner of purchasing or obtaining slaves on the 
coast of Africa, and the importation and sale thereof, either in the British 
colonies and settlements, or in the foreign colonies and settlements in America 
or the West Indies ; and also as far as related to the effects and consequences 
of the trade, both in Africa and in the said colonies and settlements, and to 
the general commerce of this kingdom ; and that they should report to him in 
council the result of their inquiries, with such observations as they might have 
to offer thereupon." 

An effort was made to enlist Mr. Pitt in the cause, and Mr. Clarkson thus 
describes his first interview with that great statesman : " My business in Lon 
don was to hold a conversation with Mr. Pitt previously to the meeting of the 
council, and to try to interest him, as the first minister of state, in our favor. 
For this purpose, Mr. Wilberforce had opened the way for me, and an inter 
view took place. We were in free conversation together for a considerable 
time, during which we went through most of the branches of the subject. Mr. 
Pitt appeared to me to have but little knowledge of it. lie had also his doubts, 
which he expressed openly, on many points. lie was at a loss to conceive 
how private interest should not always restrain the master of the slave from 
abusing him. This matter I explained to him as well as I could ; and if he 
was not entirely satisfied with my interpretation of it, he was at least induced 
to believe that cruel practices were more probable than he had imagined. A 
second circumstance, the truth of which he doubted, was the mortality and 
usage of seamen in this trade ; and a third was the statement, by which so 
much had been made of the riches of Africa, and of the genius and abilities of 
her people ; for he seemed at a loss to comprehend, if these things were so, 
how it had happened that they should not have been more generally noticed 
before. I promised to satisfy trim upon these points, and an interview was 
fixed for this purpose the next day. 

"At the time appointed, I went with my books, papers and African produc- 


tions. Mr. Pitt examined the former himself. He turned over leaf after leaf, 
in which the copies of the muster-rolls were contained, with great patience ; 
and when he had looked over above a hundred pages accurately, and found the 
name of every seaman inserted, his former abode or service, the time of his 
entry, and what had become of him, either by death, discharge, or desertion, 
he expressed his surprise at the great pains which had been taken in this branch 
of the inquiry, and confessed, with some emotion, that his doubts were wholly 
removed with respect to the destructive nature of this employment ; and he said, 
moreover, that the facts contained in these documents, if they had been but 
fairly copied, could never be disproved. He was equally astonished at the 
various woods and other productions of Africa, but most of all at the manufac 
tures of the natives in cotton, leather, gold, and iron, which were laid before 
him. These he handled and examined over and over again. Many sublime 
thoughts seemed to rush in upon him at once at the sight of these, some of 
which he expressed with observations becoming a great and dignified mind. 
He thanked me for the light I had given him on many of the branches of this 
great question. And I went away under a certain conviction that I had left 
him much impressed in our favor." 

The first witnesses examined by the council, were persons sent expressly as 
delegates from Liverpool, who had not only been themselves in the trade, 
but were at that time interested in it. They endeavored to show that none of 
the enormities charged belonged to it ; that it was attended with circumstances 
highly favorable to the Africans ; that it was so vitally connected with the 
manufacturing and commercial interests of the country that it would be almost 
national ruin to abolish it. A few, but highly respectable witnesses upon the 
other side were called before the council, and contributed to counteract the 
testimony of the Liverpool delegates. The inquiry continued for four months, 
during which time the petitions from the people to parliament had increased 
to one hundred and three. 



Mr, Pitt introduces the subject of the Abolition of the Slave-Trade into the House of 
Commons, May 9, 1788. Speech of Mr. Pitt on the occasion. Parliamentary action 
in 1789. Debate of 12th of May. Speech of William Wilberforce. Travels and ex 
ertions of Clarkson. Sessions of 1791 and 1792. Debates in the Commons. Speeches 
of Wilberforce, Pitt, Fox, Bailie, Thornton, Whitbread, Dundas, and Jenkinson. 
Gradual abolition agreed upon by House of Commons. 

.R. WILBERFORCE had been preparing to introduce the subject into 
the House of Commons when he was taken so ill that his life was despaired of. 
Under these circumstances, his friend Mr. Pitt, then chancellor of the exche- 


quer and prime minister, undertook to supply his place. On the 9th of May, 
1788, he opened the business in the house. 

Mr. Pitt arose : He said he intended to move a resolution relative to a 
subject which was of more importance than any which had ever been agitated 
in that house. This honor he should not have had, but for a circumstance 
which he could not but deeply regret, the severe indisposition of his friend Mr. 
"Wilberforce, in whose hands every measure which belonged to justice, human 
ity, and the national interest, was peculiarly well placed. The subject in ques 
tion was no less than that of the slave-trade. It was obvious from the great 
number of petitions which had been presented concerning it, how much it had 
engaged the public attention, and consequently how much it deserved the seri 
ous notice of that house, and how much it became their duty to take some 
measure concerning it. But whatever was done on such a subject, every one 
would agree, ought to be done with the maturest deliberation. Two opinions 
had prevailed without doors, as appeared from the language of the different 
petitions. It had been pretty generally thought that the African slave-trade 
ought to be abolished. There were others, however, who thought it only stood 
in need of regulations. But all had agreed that it ought not to remain as it 
stood at present. But that measure which it might be the most proper to take, 
could only be discovered by a cool, patient, and diligent examination of the 
subject in all its circumstances, relations, and consequences. This had induced 
him to form an opinion that the present was not the proper time for discussing 
it ; for the session was now far advanced, and there was also a want of proper 
materials for the full information of the house. It would, he thought, be bet 
ter discussed, when it might produce some useful debate, and when that inquiry 
which had been instituted by his majesty's ministers, (he meant the examina 
tion by a committee of privy council,) should be brought to such a state of ma 
turity as to make it fit that the result of it should be laid before the house. 
That inquiry, he trusted, would facilitate their investigation, and enable them 
the better to proceed to a decision, which should be equally founded on princi 
ples of humanity, justice, and sound policy. As there was not a probability 
of reaching so desirable an end in the present state of business, he meant to 
move a resolution to pledge the house to the discussion of the question early 
in the next session. If by that time his honorable friend should be recovered, 
which he hoped would be the case, then he (Mr Wilberforce) would take the 
lead in it ; but should it unfortunately happen otnerwise, then he (the chancel 
lor of the exchequer) pledged himself to bring forward some proposition con 
cerning it. The house, however, would observe that he had studiously avoided 
giving any opinion of his own on this great subject. He thought it wiser to 
defer this till the time of the discussion should arrive. He concluded with 
moving, after having read the names of the places from whence the different pe 
titions had come, " That this house will, early in the next session of parliament, 
proceed to take into consideration the circumstances of the slave-trade com 
plained of in the said petitions, and what may be fit to be done thereupon." 

The motion of Mr. Pitt was warmly discussed, and at considerable length 


The principal speakers upon it were Mr. Fox, Mr. Burke, Sir William Dol- 
ben, Lord Penrhyn, and Mr. Gascoyn. The two last were members from Liv 
erpool, and were strongly opposed to meddling with the question of the aboli 
tion of the slave-trade at any time. 

Mr. Fox wished that there might be no delay ; he said he was sorry the con 
sideration of the question, but more particularly where so much human suffering 
was concerned, should be put off to another session, when it was obvious that 
no advantage could be gained by delay. 

At length, when the question was put, the resolution was agreed to unani 
mously. Thus ended the first discussion that ever took place in the commons 
on this important subject. This debate, though many of the persons concerned 
in it abstained cautiously from entering into the merits of the general question, 
became interesting in consequence of circumstances attending it. Several rose 
up at once to give relief, as it were, to their feelings by utterance ; but by so 
doing, they were prevented, many of them, from being heard. They who were 
heard, spoke with peculiar energy, as if warmed in an extraordinary manner 
by the subject. There was an apparent enthusiasm in behalf of the injured 
Africans. It was supposed by some that there was a moment in which, if the 
chancellor of the exchequer had moved for an immediate abolition of the trade, 
he would have carried it that night. 

About this time, Mr. Clarkson brought out his powerful essay on the impol 
icy of the slave-trade, which was circulated in great numbers by the committee. 
Their efforts had aroused the feelings of the whole English nation, and had 
attracted the notice of many distinguished persons throughout Europe and 
America. As soon as the session was over, Mr. Clarkson again undertook a 
journey, visiting all the seaports between Kent and Cornwall. His object was 
to find out new witnesses to strengthen the cause, and form auxiliary commit 
tees. The committee, meantime, were indefatigable ; they had addressed the 
rulers of Spain, Portugal, and Sweden ; they had circulated five new works, 
besides the engraving which we have copied of the interior of a slave ship, ex 
hibiting the closely packed bodies of the negroes. 

On the 19th of March, 1789, Mr. Wilberforce moved in the House of Com 
mons that the house should, on the 29th of April, take into consideration its 
resolution of the last session. The motion was agreed to, but it was the sig 
nal for all those who supposed themselves interested in the continuance of the 
trade, such as merchants, planters, manufacturers, mortgagees, and others, to 
begin a tremendous opposition. Meetings were called, and frightful resolu 
tions passed. The public papers were filled with them ; and pamphlets issued, 
filled with the most bitter invectives against all engaged in the movement, 
Emancipation was industriously confounded with the abolition of the trade. 
Compensation was demanded in a monstrous degree. The cry was such that 
many began to be staggered about the propriety of the total abolition of the 
trade. Calculations exhibited that the number of slaves in the British West 
Indies amounted to 410,000, and that to keep up that number the annual im 
portation of 10,000 was required; that the English procured in Africa 30,000 


annually, and therefore could sell 20,000 to other nations ; that in the prose 
cution of this trade, English manufactures to the amount of above 800,000 
sterling were exported, and above 1,400,000 in value obtained in return, and 
that the government received 256,000 annually by the slave tax. 

The report of the privy council, consisting of the examinations before men 
tioned, was laid before the house, and that all might have a chance to examine 
it, Mr. Pitt moved that the consideration of the subject be postponed from the 
29th of April to the 12th of May. 

At length the 12th of May arrived. Mr. Wilberforce rose up in the com 
mons, and moved the order of the day for the house to resolve itself into a 
committee of the whole house, to take into consideration the petitions which 
had been presented against the slave-trade. 

This order having been read, he moved that the report of the committee of 
privy council ; that the acts passed in the islands relative to slaves ; that the 
evidence adduced last year on the slave-trade ; that the petitions offered in 
the last session against the slave-trade ; and that the accounts presented to 
the house, in the last and present session, relative to the exports 'and imports 
to Africa, be referred to the same committee. 

These motions having been severally agreed to, the house immediately 
resolved itself into a committee of the whole house, and Sir William Dolben 
was put into the chair. 

Mr. Wilberforce began by declaring that when he considered how much dis 
cussion the subject, which he was about to explain to the committee, had 
occasioned not only in that house but throughout the kingdom, and through 
out Europe ; and when he considered the extent and importance of it, the 
variety of interests involved in it, and the consequences which might arise, he 
owned he had been filled with apprehensions, lest a subject of such magnitude 
and a cause of such weight should suffer from the weakness of its advocate ; 
but when he recollected that in the progress of his inquiries he had every 
where been received with candor, that most people gave him credit for the 
purity of his motives, and that, however many of these might then differ from 
him, they were all likely to agree in the end, he had dismissed his fears and 
marched forward with a firmer step in this cause of humanity, justice and reli 
gion, lie could not, however, but lament that the subject had excited so 
much warmth. He feared that too many on this account were but ill prepared 
to consider it with impartiality He entreated all such to endeavor to be 
calm and composed. A tair and cool discussion was essentially necessary. 
The motion he meant to offer was as reconcileable to political expediency as 
to national humanity. It belonged to no party question. It would in the 
end be found serviceable to all parties; and to the best interests of the country. 
He did not come forward to accuse the West India planter, or the Liverpool 
merchant, or indeed any one concerned in this traffic ; but, if blame attached 
any where, to take shame to himself, in common, indeed, with the whole par 
liament of Great Britain, who, having suffered it to be carried on under their 
own authority were all of them participators in the guilt. 


Tn endeavoring to explain the great business of the day, he said he should 
call the attention of the house only to the leading features of the slave-trade. 
Nor should he dwell long upon these. Every one might imagine for himself 
what must be the natural consequence of such a commerce with Africa. Was 
it not plain that she must suffer from it ? that her savage manners must be 
rendered still more ferocious? and that a trade of this nature carried on 
round her coasts, must extend violence and desolation to her very centre ? It 
was well known that the natives of Africa were sold as goods, and that num 
bers of them were continually conveyed away from their country by the owners 
of British vessels. The question then was, which way the latter came by 
them. In answer to this question, the privy council report, which was then 
on the table, afforded evidence the most satisfactory and conclusive. He had 
found things in it, which had confirmed every proposition he had maintained 
before, whether this proposition had been gathered from living information of 
the best authority, or from the histories he had read. But it was unnecessary 
either to quote the report, or to appeal to history on this occasion. Plain 
reason and common sense would point out how the poor Africans were 
obtained. Africa was a country divided into many kingdoms, which had dif 
ferent governments and laws. In many parts the princes were despotic. In 
others they had a limited rule. But in all of them, whatever the nature of 
the government was, men were considered as goods and property, and, as 
such, subject to plunder in the same manner as property in other countries. 
The persons in power there were naturally fond of our commodities ; and to 
obtain them (which could only be done by the sale of their countrymen) they 
waged war on one another, or even ravaged their own country when they could 
find no pretense for quarreling with their neighbors ; in their courts of law 
many poor wretches who were innocent were condemned ; and to obtain these 
commodities in greater abundance, thousands were kidnapped, and torn from 
their families, and sent into slavery. Such transactions, he said, were recorded 
in every history of Africa, and the report on the table confirmed them. With 
respect, however, to these, he should make but one or two observations. If 
we looked into the reign of Henry the Eighth, we should find a parallel for 
one of them. We should find that similar convictions took place ; and that 
penalties followed conviction. With respect to wars, the kings of Africa were 
never induced to engage in them by public principles, by national glory, and 
least of all, by the love of their people. This had been stated by those most 
conversant with the subject, by Dr. Spaarman and Mr. Wadstrom. They had 
conversed with these princes, and had learned from their own mouths, that to 
procure slaves was the object of their hostilities. Indeed, there was scarcely 
a single person examined before the privy council, who did not prove that the 
slave-trade was the source of the tragedies acted upon that extensive conti 
nent. Some had endeavored to palliate this circumstance ; but there was not 
one who did not more or less admit it to be true. By one the slave-trade was 
called the concurrent cause, by the majority it was acknowledged to be the 
principal motive of the African wars. The same might be said with respect 



to those instances of treachery and injustice in which individuals were con 
cerned. And here he was sorry to observe that our own countrymen were 
often guilty. He would only at present advert to the tragedy at Calabar, 
where two large African villages, having been for some time at war, made 
peace. This peace was to have been ratified by intermarriages ; but some of 
our captains who were there, seeing the trade would be stopped for a while, 
sowed dissension again between them. They actually set one village against 
the other, took a share in the contest, massacred many of the inhabitants, and 
carried others of them away as slaves. But shocking as this transaction might 
appear, there was not a single history of Africa to be read, in which scenes of 
as atrocious a nature were not related. They, he said, who defended this 
trade, were warped and blinded by their own interests, and would not be con 
vinced of the miseries they were daily heaping on their fellow-creatures. By 
the countenance they gave it, they had reduced the inhabitants of Africa to a 
worse state than that of the most barbarous nation. They had destroyed 
what ought to have been the bond of union and safety among them : they had 
introduced discord and anarchy among them : they had set kings against their 
subjects, and subjects against each other : they had rendered every private 
family wretched : they had, in short, given birth to scenes of injustice and 
misery not to be found in any other quarter of the globe. 

Having said thus much on the subject of procuring slaves in Africa, he 
would now go to that of the transportation of them. And here he had fondly 
hoped, that when men with affections and feelings like our own had been torn 
from their country, and every thing dear to them, he should have found some 
mitigation of their sufferings ; but the sad reverse was the case. This was 
the most wretched part of the whole subject. He was incapable of impressing 
the house with what he felt upon it. A description of their conveyauce was 
impossible. So much misery condensed in so little room was more than the 
human imagination had ever before conceived. Think only of six hundred 
persons linked together, trying to get rid of each other, crammed in a close 
vessel with every object that was nauseous and disgusting, diseased, and 
struggling with all the varieties of wretchedness. It seemed impossible to 
add any thing more to human misery. Yet, shocking as this description must 
be felt to be by every man, the transportation had been described by several 
witnesses from Liverpool to be a comfortable conveyance. Mr. Norris had 
painted the accommodations on board a slave-ship in the most glowing colors. 
He had represented them in a manner which would have exceeded his attempts 
at praise of the most luxurious scenes. Their apartments, he said, were fitted 
up as advantageously for them as circumstances could possibly admit : they 
had several meals a day ; some, of their own country provisions, with the best 
sauces of African cookery ; and, by way of variety, another meal of pulse, 
according to the Eurapean taste. After breakfast they had water to wash 
themselves, while their apartments were perfumed with frankincense and lime- 
juice. Before dinner they were amused after the manner of their country : 
instruments of music were introduced : the song and the dance were promo- 


ted : games of chance were furnished them : the men played and sang, while 
the women and girls made fanciful ornaments from beads, with whbh they 
were plentifully supplied. They were indulged in all their little fancies, and 
kept in sprightly humor. Another of them had said, when the sailors were 
flogged, it was out of the hearing of the Africans, lest it should depress their 
spirits. He by no means wished to say that such descriptions were wilful 
misrepresentations. If they were not, it proved that interest or prejudice was 
capable of spreading a film over the eyes thick enough to occasion total blind 

Others, however, and these men of the greatest veracity, had given a differ 
ent account. What would the house think, when by the concurring testimony 
of these the true history was laid open ? The slaves, who had been described 
as rejoicing in their captivity, were so wrung with misery at leaving their 
country, that it was the constant practice to set sail in the night, lest they 
should know the moment of their departure. With respect to their accommo 
dation, the right ankle of one was fastened to the left ankle of another by an 
iron fetter ; and if they were turbulent, by another on the wrists. Instead of 
the apartments described, they were placed in niches, and along the decks, in 
such a manner that it was impossible for any one to pass among them, how 
ever careful he might be, without treading upon them. Sir George Yonge 
had testified, that in a slave-ship, on board of which he went, and which had 
not completed her cargo by two hundred and fifty, instead of the scent of 
frankincense being perceptible to the nostrils, the stench was intolerable. The 
allowance of water was so deficient that the slaves were frequently found gasp 
ing for life, and almost suffocated. The pulse with which they had been said 
to be favored, were absolutely English horse beans. The legislature of Ja 
maica had stated the scantiness both of water and provisions, as a subject 
which called for the interference of parliament. As Mr. Norris had said the 
song and the dance were promoted, he could not pass over these expressions 
without telling the house what they meant. It would have been much more 
fair if he himself had explained the word promoted. The truth was, that for 
the sake of exercise, the miserable wretches, loaded with chains and oppressed 
with disease, were forced to dance by the terror of the lash, and sometimes by 
the actual use of it. "I," said one of the evidences, "was employed to dance 
the men, while another person danced the women." Such, then, was the mean 
ing of the word promoted ; and it might also be observed, with respect to 
food, that instruments were sometimes carried out in order to force them to 
eat ; which was the same sort of proof how much they enjoyed themselves in 
this instance also. With respect to their singing, it consisted of songs of 
lamentation for the loss of their country. While they sung they were in tears : 
so that one of the captains, more humane probably than the rest, threatened a 
woman with a flogging because the mournfulness of her song was too painful 
for hie feelings. Perhaps he could not give a better proof of the sufferings of 
these injured people, during their passage, than by stating the mortality which 
accompanied it. This was a species of evidence which was infallible on this 



occasion. Death was a witness which could not deceive them ; and the pro 
portion of deaths would not only confirm, but, if possible, even aggravate our 
suspicion of the misery of the transit. It would be found, upon an average 
of all the ships upon which evidence had been given, that, exclusively of such 
as perished before they sailed from Africa, not less than twelve and a half per 
cent, died on their passage : besides these, the Jamaica report stated that 
four and a half per cent, died while in the harbors, or on shore before the day 
of sale, which was only about the space of twelve or fourteen days after thei 
arrival there ; and one-third more died in the seasoning : and this in a climate 
exactly similar to their own, and where, as some of the witnesses pretended, 
they were healthy and happy. Thus, out of every lot of one hundred shipped 
from Africa, seventeen died in about nine weeks, and not more than fifty lived 
to become efficient laborers in our islands. 

Having advanced thus far in his investigation, he felt, he said, the wicked 
ness of the slave-trade to be so enormous, so dreadful, and irremediable, that 
he could stop at no alternative short of its abolition. A trade founded on in 
iquity, and carried on with such circumstances of horror, must be abolished, 
let the policy of it be what it might ; and he had from this time determined, 
whatever were the consequences, that he would never rest till he had effected 
that abolition. His mind had indeed been harassed by the objections of the 
West India planters, who had asserted that the ruin of their property must be 
the consequence of such a measure. He could not help, however, distrusting 
their arguments. He could not believe that the Almighty being, who had for 
bidden the practice of rapine and bloodshed, had made rapine and bloodshed 
necessary to any part of his universe. He felt a confidence in this persuasion, 
and took the resolution to act upon it. Light, indeed, soon broke in upon 
him. The suspicion of his mind was every day confirmed by increasing infor 
mation, and the evidence he had now to offer upon this point was decisive and 
complete. The principle upon which he founded the necessity of the abolition 
was not policy, but justice : but, though justice were the principle of the 
measure, yet he trusted he should distinctly prove it to be reconcilable with our 
truest political interest. 

In the first place, he asserted that the number of the slaves in the West In 
dia islands might be kept up without the introduction of recruits from Africa ; 
and to prove this, he would enumerate the different sources of their mortality. 
The first was the disproportion of the sexes, there being, upon an average, 
about five males imported to three females : but this evil, when the slave-trade 
was abolished, would cure itself. The second consisted in the bad condition in 
which they were brought to the islands, and the methods of preparing them 
for sale. They arrived frequently in a sickly and disordered state, and then 
they were made up for the market by the application of astringents, washes, 
mercurial ointments, and repelling drugs, so that their wounds might be hid 
These artifices were not only fraudulent, but fatal ; but these, it was obvious, 
would of themselves fall with the trade. A third was, excessive labor joined 
with improper food ; and a fourth was, the extreme dissoluteness of their man- 



ners. These also would both of them be counteracted by the impossibility of 
getting further supplies ; for owners, now unable to replace those slaves whom 
they might lose, by speedy purchase in the markets, would be more careful how 
they treated them in future, and better treatment would be productive of better 
morals. And here he would just advert to an argument used against those 
who complained of cruelty in our islands, which was, that it was the interest 
of masters to treat their slaves with humanity ; but surely it was immediate 
and present, not future and distant, interest, which was the great spring of 
action in the affairs of mankind. Why did we make laws to punish men ? It 
was their interest to be upright and virtuous ; but there was a present impulse 
continually breaking in upon their better judgment, and an impulse which was 
known to be contrary to their permanent advantage. . It was ridiculous to say 
that men would be bound by their interest, when gain or ardent passion urged 
them. It might as well be asserted that a stone could not be thrown into the 
air, or a body move from place to place, because the principle of gravitation 
bound them to the surface of the earth. If a planter in the West Indies found 
himself reduced in his profits, he did not usually dispose of any part of his 
slaves ; and his own gratifications were never given up so long as there was a 
possibility of making any retrenchment in the allowance of his slaves. But to 
return to the subject which he had left : He was happy to state, that as all the 
causes of the decrease which he had stated might be remedied, so, by the pro 
gress of light and reformation, these remedies had been gradually coming into 
practice ; and that, as these had increased, the decrease of slaves had in an 
equal proportion been lessened. By the gradual adoption of these remedies, 
he could prove from the report on the table, that the decrease of slaves in Ja 
maica had lessened to such a degree, that from the year IT* 7 * to the present it 
was not quite one in a hundred, and that in fact they were at present in a state 
of increase ; for that the births on that island, at this moment, exceeded the 
deaths by one thousand or eleven hundred per annum. Barbadoes, Nevis, An 
tigua, and the Bermudas were, like Jamaica, lessening their decrease, and 
holding forth an evident and reasonable expectation of a speedy state of in 
crease by natural population. But allowing the number of negroes even to 
decrease for a time, there were methods which would insure the welfare of the 
West India islands. The lands there might be cultivated by fewer hands, and 
this to greater advantage to the proprietors and to this country, by the produce 
of cinnamon, coffee, and cotton, than by that of sugar. The produce of the 
plantations might also be considerably increased, even in the case of sugar, 
with less hands than were at present employed, if the owners of them would 
but introduce machines of husbandry. Mr. Long himself, long resident as a 
planter, had proved, upon his own estate, that the plow, though so little used 
in the West Indies, did the service of a hundred slaves, and caused the same 
ground to produce three hogsheads of sugar, which, when cultivated by slaves, 
would only produce two. The division of work, which, in free and civilized 
countries, was the grand source of wealth, and the reduction of the number of 
domestic servants, of whom not less than from twenty to forty were kept in 


ordinary families, afforded other resources for this purpose. But granting 
that all these suppositions should be unfounded, and that every one of these 
substitutes should fail for a time, the planters would be indemnified, as is the 
case in all transactions of commerce, by the increased price of their produce in 
the British market. Thus, by contending against the abolition, they were de 
feated in every part of the argument. But he would never give up the point, 
that the number of slaves could be kept up by natural population, and without 
any dependence whatever on the slave-trade. He therefore called upon the 
house again to abolish it as a criminal waste of life ; it was utterly unneces 
sary ; he had proved it so by documents contained in the report. The merchants 
of Liverpool, indeed, had thought otherwise, but he should be cautious how 
he assented to their opinions. They declared last year that it was a losing 
trade at two slaves to a ton, and yet they pursued it when restricted to five 
slaves to three tons. He believed, however, that it was upon the whole a 
losing concern ; in the same manner as the lottery would be a losing adventure 
to any company who should buy all the tickets. Here and there an individual 
gained a large prize, but the majority of adventurers gained nothing. The 
same merchants, too, had asserted that the town of Liverpool would be ruined 
by the abolition. But Liverpool did not depend for its consequence upon the 
slave-trade. The whole export tonnage from that place amounted to no less 
than 170,000 tons, whereas the export part of it to Africa amounted only to 
13,000. Liverpool, he was sure, owed its greatness to other and very differ 
ent causes ; the slave-trade bearing but a small proportion to its other trades. 
Having gone through that part of the subject which related to the slaves, 
he would now answer two objections which he had frequently heard started. 
The first of these was, that the abolition of the slave-trade would operate to 
the total ruin of our navy, and to the increase of that of our rivals. For an 
answer to these assertions, he referred to what he considered to be the most 
valuable part of the report, and for which the house and the country were in 
debted to the indefatigable exertions of Mr. Clarkson. By the report, it 
appeared that instead of the slave-trade being a nursery for British seamen, it 
was their grave. It appeared that more seamen died in that trade in one year 
than in the whole remaining trade of the country in two. Out of 910 sailors 
in it, 216 died in the year, while upon a fair average of the same number of 
men employed in the trades to the East and West Indies, Petersburgh, New 
foundland, and Greenland, no more than 87 died. It appeared also, that out 
of 3,170, who had left Liverpool in the slave-ships in the year 1787, only 
1,428 had returned. And here, while he lamented the loss which the country 
thus annually sustained in her seamen, he had additionally to lament the bar 
barous usage which they experienced, and which this trade, by the natural ten 
dency to harden the heart, exclusively produced. He would just read an 
extract of a letter from Governor Parry, of Barbadoes, to Lord Sydney, one 
of the secretaries of state. The governor declared that he could no longer 
contain himself on account of the ill treatment which the British sailors en 
dured at the hands of their savage captains These were obliged to have 


their vessels strongly manned, not only on account of the unhealthiness of the 
climate of Africa, but of the necessity of guarding the slaves, and preventing 
and suppressing insurrections ; and when they arrived in the West Indies, and 
were out of all danger from the latter, they quarreled with their men on the 
most frivolous pretenses, on purpose to discharge them, and thus save the pay 
ment of supernumerary wages home. Thus many were left in a diseased and 
deplorable state, either to perish by sickness, or to enter into foreign service ; 
great numbers of whom were forever lost to their country. The governor 
concluded by declaring that the enormities attendant on this trade were so great 
as to demand the immediate interference of the legislature. 

The next objection to the abolition was, that if we were to relinquish the 
slave-trade, our rivals, the French, would take it up ; so that while we should 
suffer by the measure, the evil would still go on, and this even to its former 
extent. This was, indeed, a very weak argument ; and, if it would defend the 
continuance of the slave-trade, might equally be urged in favor of robbery, 
murder, and every species of wickedness, which, if we did not practice, others 
would commit. But suppose, for the sake of argument, that they were to take 
it up, what good would it do them ? What advantages, for instance, would they 
derive from this pestilential commerce to their marine ? Should not we, on the 
other hand, be benefited by this change ? Would they not be obliged to come 
to us, in consequence of the cheapness of our manufactures, for what they 
wanted for the African market? But he would not calumniate the French 
nation so much as to suppose that they would carry on the trade if we were to 
relinquish it. He believed, on the other hand, that they would abolish it also. 
Mr. Necker, the present minister of France, was a man of religious principle ; 
and, in his work upon the administration of the finances, had recorded hit 
abhorrence of this trade. He was happy also to relate an anecdote of the 
present king of France, which proved that he was a friend to the abolition ; 
for, being petitioned to dissolve a society, formed at Paris, for the annihilation 
of the slave-trade, his majesty answered that he would not, and was happy to 
hear that so humane an association was formed in his dominions. And here, 
having mentioned the society in Paris, he could not help paying a due compli 
ment to that established in London for the same purpose, which had labored 
with the greatest assiduity to make this important subject understood, and 
which had conducted itself with so much judgment and moderation as to have 
interested men of all religions, and to have united them in their cause. 

There was another topic which he would submit to the notice of the house 
before he concluded. They were, perhaps, not aware that a fair and honorable 
trade might be substituted in the natural productions of Africa, so that our 
connection with that continent in the way of commercial advantage need not 
oe lost. The natives had already made some advances in it ; and if they had 
not appeared so forward in raising and collecting their own produce for sale as 
in some other countries, it was to be imputed to the slave-trade ; but remove 
the cause, and Africa would soon emerge from her present ignorant and indo 
lent state. Civilization would go on with her as well as with other nations. 


Europe, three or four centuries ago, was in many parts as barbarous as Africa 
at present, and chargeable with as bad practices. For what would be said, if, 
so late as the middle of the thirteenth century, he could find a parallel there for 
the slave-trade ? Yes. This parallel was to be found even in England. The 
people of Bristol, in the reign of Henry the Seventh, had a regular market for 
children, which were bought by the Irish ; but the latter having experienced a 
general calamity, which they imputed as a judgment from heaven on account 
of this wicked traffic, abolished it. The only thing, therefore, which he had 
to solicit of the house, was to show that they are now as enlightened as the 
Irish were four centuries back, by refusing to buy the children of other nations. 
He hoped they would do it. He hoped, too, they would do it in an unqualified 
manner. Nothing less than a total abolition of the trade would do away the 
evils complained of. The legislature of Jamaica, indeed, had thought that 
regulations might answer the purpose. Their report had recommended that 
no person should be kidnapped, or permitted to be made a slave, contrary to 
the customs of Africa. But might he not be reduced to this state very unjustly, 
and yet by no means contrary to the African laws ? Besides, how could we 
distinguish between those who were justly or unjustly reduced to it? Could 
we discover them by their physiognomy ? But if we could, who would believe 
that the British captains would be influenced by any regulations made in this 
country, to refuse to purchase those who had not been fairly, honestly, and 
uprightly enslaved ? They who were offered to us for sale were brought, some 
of them, three or four thousand miles, and exchanged like cattle from one to 
another, till they reached the coast. But who could return these to their 
homes, or make them compensation for their sufferings during their long jour- 
neyings ? He would now conclude by begging pardon of the house for having 
detained them so long. He could indeed have expressed his own convictions 
in fewer words. He needed only to have made one or two short statements, 
and to have quoted the commandment, "Thou shalt do no murder." But he 
thought it his duty to lay the whole of the case, and the whole of its guilt 
before them. They would see now that no mitigations, no palliatives, would 
either be efficient or admissible. Nothing short of an absolute abolition could 
be adopted. This they owed to Africa; they owed it, too, to their own moral 
characters. And he hoped they would follow up the principle of one of the 
repentant African captains, who had gone before the committee of privy coun 
cil as a voluntary witness, and that they would make Africa all the atonement 
in their power for the multifarious injuries she had received at the hands of 
British subjects. With respect to these injuries, their enormity and extent, it 
might be alleged in their excuse, that they were not fully acquainted with them 
till that moment, and therefore not answerable for their former existence ; but 
now they could no longer plead ignorance concerning them. They had seen 
them brought directly before their eyes, and they must decide for themselves, 
and must justify to the world and their own consciences the facts and principles 
upon which their decision was formed. 

Mr. Wilberforce having concluded his speech, which lasted three hours and 


a half, read, and laid on the table of the house, as subjects for their future dis 
cussion, nine propositions, which he had deduced from the evidence contained 
in the privy council report, and of which the following is the abridged substance : 

1. That the number of slaves annually carried from the coast of Africa, in 
British vessels, was about 38,000, of which, on an average, 22,500 were carried 
to the British islands, and that of the latter, only 17,500 were retained there, 

2. That these slaves, according to the evidence on the table, consisted, first, 
of prisoners of war ; secondly, of free persons sold for debt, or on account of 
real or imputed crimes, particularly adultery and witchcraft ; in which cases 
they were frequently sold with their whole families, and sometimes for the profit 
of those by whom they were condemned ; thirdly, of domestic slaves sold for 
the profit of their masters, in some places at the will of the masters, and in 
otters, on being condemned by them for real or imputed crimes ; fourthly, of 
persons made slaves by various acts of oppression, violence, or fraud, committed 
either by the princes and chiefs of those countries on their subjects, or by pri 
vate individuals on each other ; or, lastly, by Europeans engaged in this traffic. 

3. That the trade so carried on had necessarily a tendency to occasion fre 
quent and cruel wars among the natives ; to produce unjust convictions and 
punishments for pretended or aggravated crimes ; to encourage acts of oppres 
sion, violence, and fraud, and to obstruct the natural course of civilization and 
improvement in those countries. 

4. That Africa, in its present state, furnished several valuable articles of 
commerce which were partly peculiar to itself, but that it was adapted to the 
production of others, with which we were now either wholly, or in great part, 
supplied by foreign nations. That an extensive commerce with Africa might 
be substituted in these commodities, so as to afford a return for as many articles 
as had annually been carried thither in British vessels ; and, lastly, that such a 
commerce might reasonably be expected to increase by the progress of civili 
zation there. 

5. That the slave-trade was peculiarly destructive to the seamen employed 
in it ; and that the mortality there had been much greater than in any British 
vessels employed upon the same coast in any other service or trade. 

6. That the mode of transporting the slaves from Africa to the West Indies 
necessarily exposed them to many and grievous sufferings, for which no regu 
lations could provide an adequate remedy ; and that in consequence thereof a 
large proportion had annually perished during the voyage. 

7. That a large proportion had also perished in the harbors in the West 
Indies, from the diseases contracted in the voyage and the treatment of the 
same, previously to their being sold, and that this loss amounted to four and a 
half per cent, of the imported slaves. 

8. That the loss of the newly imported slaves, within the three first years 
after their importation, bore a large proportion to the whole number imported. 

9. That the natural increase of population among the slaves in the islands 
appeared to have been impeded principally by the following causes : First, 
by the inequality of the sexes in the importations from Africa Secondly, by 


the general dissoluteness of manners among the slaves, and the want of proper 
regulations for the encouragement of marriages and of rearing children among 
them. Thirdly, by the particular diseases which were prevalent among them, 
and which were in some instances to be attributed to too severe labor, or rig 
orous treatment, and in others to insufficient or improper food. Fourthly, by 
those diseases which affected a large proportion of negro children in their in 
fancy, and by those to which the negroes newly imported from Africa had been 
found to be particularly liable. 

These propositions having been laid upon the table of the house, lord Pen- 
rhyn rose in behalf of the planters, and next after him, Mr. Gascoyne, (both 
members for Liverpool,) in behalf of the merchants concerned in the latter 
place. They both predicted the ruin and misery which would inevitably follow 
the abolition of the trade. The former said that no less than seventy millions 
were mortgaged upon lands in the West Indies, all of which would be lost. 
Mr. Wilberforce therefore should have made a motion to pledge the house to 
the repayment of this sum before he had brought forward his propositions. 
Compensation ought to have been agreed upon as a previously necessary meas 
ure. The latter said that in consequence of the bill of last year, many ships 
were laid up and many seamen out of employ. His constituents had large 
capitals engaged in the trade, and if it were to be wholly done away, they 
would suffer from not knowing where to employ them. They both joined in 
asserting that Mr. Wilberforce had made so many misrepresentations in all the 
branches of this subject, that no reliance whatever was to be placed on the pic 
ture which he had chosen to exhibit. They should speak, however, more fully 
to this point when the propositions were discussed. 

The latter declaration called up Mr. Wilberforce again, who observed that 
he had no intention of misrepresenting any fact. He did not know that he 
had done it in any one instance ; but, if he had, it would be easy to convict 
him out of the report upon the table. 

Mr. Burke then arose : He would not, he said, detain the committee long 
Indeed he was not able, weary and indisposed as he then felt himself, even if 
he had an inclination to do it ; but as, on account of his other parliamentary 
duty, he might not have it in his power to attend the business now before them 
in its course, he would take that opportunity of stating his opinion upon it. 

And, first, the house, the nation, and all Europe were under great obliga 
tions to Mr. Wilberforce for having brought this important subject forward. 
He had done it in a manner the most masterly, impressive, and eloquent. He 
had laid down his principles so admirably, and with so much order and force, 
that his speech had equaled any thing he had ever heard in modern oratory, 
and perhaps it had not been excelled by anything to bo found in ancient thaes. 
As to the slave-trade itself, there could not be two opinions about it where men 
were not interested. A trade, begun in savage war, prosecuted with unheard 
of barbarity, continued during the transportation with the most loathsome im 
prisonment, and ending in perpetual exile and slavery, was a trade so horrid in 
all its circumstances that it was impossible to produce a single argument in its 


favor. On the ground of prudence, nothing could be said in defense of it , 
nor could it be justified by necessity. It was necessity alone that could be 
brought to justify inhumanity ; but no case of necessity could be made out 
strong enough to justify this monstrous traffic. It was therefore the duty of 
the house to put an end to it, and this without further delay. 

With respect to the consequences mentioned by the two members for Liver 
pool, he had a word or two to offer upon them. Lord Penrhyn had talked of 
millions to be lost and paid for. But seeing no probability of any loss ulti 
mately, he could see no necessity for compensation. He believed, on the other 
hand, that the planters would be great gainers by those wholesome regulations 
which they would be obliged to make if the slave-trade were abolished. He 
did not, however, flatter them with the idea that this gain would be immediate. 
Perhaps they might experience inconveniences at first, and even some loss. But 
what then ? With their loss, their virtue would be the greater. And in this 
light he hoped the house would consider the matter ; for, if they were called 
upon to do an act of virtuous energy and heroism, they ought to think it right 
to submit to temporary disadvantages for the sake of truth, justice, humanity, 
and the prospect of greater happiness. 

The other member, Mr. Gascoyne, had said that his constituents, if the trade 
were abolished, could not employ their capitals elsewhere. But whether they 
could or not, it was the duty of that house, if they put them into a traffic which 
was shocking to humanity and disgraceful to the nation, to change their appli 
cation, and not to allow them to be used to a barbarous purpose. He believed, 
however, that the merchants of Liverpool would find no difficulty on this head. 
All capitals required active motion. It was in their nature not to remain pas 
sive and unemployed. They would soon turn them into other channels. This 
they had done themselves during the American war ; for the slave-trade was 
then almost wholly lost, and yet they had their ships employed, either as trans 
ports in the service of government, or in other ways. 

As he now called upon the house not to allow any conjectural losses to be 
come impediments in the way of the abolition of the slave-trade, so he called 
upon them to beware how they suffered any representations of the happiness 
of the state of slavery in our islands to influence them against so glorious a 
measure. Nothing made a happy slave but a degraded man. In proportion 
as the mind grows callous to its degradation, and all sense of manly pride is 
lost, the slave feels omfort. In fact, he is no longer a man. If he were to 
define a man, he would say with Shakspeare, 

"Man is a being holding large discourse, 
Looking before and after." 

But a slave was incapable of looking before and after. He had no motive to 
do it. He was a mere passive instrument in the hands of others, to be used at 
their discretion. Though living, he was dead as to all voluntary agency. Though 
moving amidst the creation with an erect form, and with the shape and sem 
blance of a human being, he was a nullity as a man. 


Mr. Fox observed, that a trade in human flesh and sinews was so scandalous, 
that it ought not openly to be carried on by any government whatever, and 
much less by that of a Christian country. "With regard to the regulation of 
the slave-trade, he knew of no such thing as a regulation of robbery and mur 
der. There was no medium. The legislature must either abolish it, or plead 
guilty of all the wickedness which had been shown to attend it. He would 
say a word or two with respect to the conduct of foreign nations on this sub 
ject. It was possible that these, when they heard that the matter had been 
discussed in that house, might follow the example, or they might go before us 
and set one themselves. If this were to happen, though we might be the 
losers, humanity would be the gainer. He himself had been thought some 
times to use expressions relative to France which were too harsh, and as if 
he could only treat her as the enemy of this country. Politically speaking, 
France was our rival. But he well knew the distinction between political 
enmity arid illiberal prejudice. If there was any great and enlightened nation 
in Europe, it was France, which was as likely as any country upon the face of 
the globe to catch a spark from the light of our fire, and to act upon the 
present subject with warmth and enthusiasm. France had often been improp 
erly stimulated by her ambition; and he had no doubt but that, in the present 
instance, she would readily follow its honorable dictates. 

Aldermen Newnham, Sawbridge, and Watson, though they wished well to 
the cause of humanity, could not, as representatives of the city of London, 
give their concurrence to a measure which would injure it so essentially as 
that of the abolition of the slave-trade. This trade might undoubtedly be put 
under wholesome regulations, and made productive of great commercial ad 
vantages. But if it were abolished, it would render the city of London one 
scene of bankruptcy and ruin. It became the house to take care, while they 
were giving way to the goodness of their hearts, that they did not contribute 
to the ruin of the mercantile interests of their country. 

Mr. Martin stated that he was so well satisfied with the speech of the hon 
orable gentleman who had introduced the propositions, and with the language 
held out by other distinguished members on this subject, that he felt himself 
more proud than ever of being an Englishman. He hoped and believed that the 
melancholy predictions of the worthy aldermen would not prove true, and that 
the citizens of London would have too much public spirit to wish that a great 
national object, which comprehended the great duties of humanity and justice, 
should be set aside, merely out of consideration to their own private interests. 

Mr. William Smith would not detain the house long at that late hour upon 
this important subject ; but he could not help testifying the great satisfaction 
he felt at the manner in which the honorable gentleman who opened the de 
bate (if it could be so called) had treated it. He approved of the proposi 
tions as the best mode of bringing the decision to a happy issue. He gave 
Mr. Fox great credit for the open and manly way in which he had manifested 
his abhorrence of this trade, and for the support he meant to give to the total 
and unqualified abolition of it ; for he was satisfied that the more it was in- 


quired into, the more it would be found that nothing short of abolition would 
cure the evil. With respect to certain assertions of the members for Liver 
pool, and certain melancholy predictions about the consequences of such an 
event, which others had held out, he desired to lay in his claim for observation 
upon them, when the great question should come before the house. 

Soon after this the house broke up ; and the discussion of the propositions, 
which was the next parliamentary measure intended, was postponed to a future 
day, which was sufficiently distant to give all the parties concerned time to 
make the necessary preparations for it. 

Of this interval the committee for the abolition availed themselves to thank 
Mr. Wilberforce for the very able and satisfactory manner in which he had 
stated to the house his propositions for the abolition of the slave-trade, and 
for the unparalleled assiduity and perseverance with which he had all along 
endeavored to accomplish this object, as well as to take measures themselves 
for the further promotion of it. Their opponents availed themselves of this 
interval also. But that which now embarrassed them, was the evidence con 
tained in the privy council report. They had no idea, considering the number 
Of witnesses they had sent to be examined, that this evidence, when duly 
weighed, could by right reasoning have given birth to the sentiments which 
had been displayed in the speeches of the most distinguished members of the 
house of commons, or to the contents of the propositions which had been laid 
upon their table. They were thunder-struck as it were by their own weakness: 
and from this time they were determined, if possible, to get rid of it as a stand 
ard for decision, or to interpose every parliamentary delay in their power. 

On the twenty-first of May, the subject came again before the attention of 
the house. It was ushered in, as was expected, by petitions collected in the 
interim, and which were expressive of the frightful consequences which would 
attend the abolition of the slave-trade. 

Mr. Wilberforce moved the order of the day, for the house to go into a 
committee of the whole house on the report of the privy council, and the 
several matters of evidence already upon the table relative to the slave-trade. 

Mr. Alderman Sawbridge immediately arose, and asked Mr. Wilberforce if 
he meant to adduce any other evidence besides that in the privy council report 
in behalf of his propositions, or to admit other witnesses, if such could be 
found, to invalidate them. Mr. Wilberforce replied, that he was quite satisfied 
with the report on the table. It would establish all his propositions. He 
should call no witnesses himself : as to permission to others to call them, that 
must be determined by the house. 

This question and this answer gave birth immediately to great disputes up 
on the subject. Aldermen Sawbridge, Newnham, and Watson ; Lords Pen- 
rhyn and Maitland ; Messrs. Gascoyne, Marsham, and others spcke against the 
admission of the evidence which had been laid upon the table. They contended 
that it was insufficient, defective, and contradictory ; that it was ex parte evi 
dence ; that it had been manufactured by ministers ; that it was founded chiefly 
on hearsay, and that the greatest part of it was false ; that it had undergone 


no cross-examination ; that it was unconstitutional ; and that, if they admitted 
it, they would establish a dangerous precedent, and abandon their rights. It 
was urged on the other hand by Mr. Courtenay, that it could not be ex parte 
evidence, because it contained testimony on both sides of the question. The 
circumstance also of its being contradictory, which had been alleged against it, 
proved that it was the result of an impartial examination. Mr. Fox observed 
that it was perfectly admissible. He called upon those who took the other 
side of the question to say why, if it was really inadmissible, they had not op 
posed it at first. It had now been a long time on the table, and no fault had 
been found with it. The truth was, it did not suit them, and they were deter 
mined by a side wind as it were to put an end to the inquiry. 

In the course of the debate much warmth of temper was manifest on both 
sides. The expression of Mr. Fox in a former debate, " that the slave-trade 
could not be regulated, because there could be no regulation of robbery and 
murder," was brought up, and construed by planters in the house as a charge 
of these crimes upon themselves. Mr. Fox, however, would not retract the 
expression. He repeated it. He had no notion, however, that any individual 
would have taken it to himself. If it contained any reflection at all, it was on 
the whole parliament who had sanctioned such a trade. Mr. Molyneux rose 
up, and animadverted severely on the character of Mr. Ramsay, one of the 
evidences in the privy council report, during his residence in the West Indies, 
This called up Sir William Dolben and Sir Charles Middleton in his defense, 
the latter of whom bore honorable testimony to his virtues from an intimate 
acquaintance with him, and a residence in the same village with him for twenty 
years. Mr. Molyneux spoke also in angry terms of the measure of the aboli 
tion. To annihilate the trade, he said, and to make no compensation on ac 
count of it, was an act of swindling. Mr. Macnamara called the measure 
hypocritical, fanatic, and methodistical. Mr. Pitt was so irritated at the in 
sidious attempt to set aside the privy council report, when no complaint had 
been alleged against it before, that he was quite off his guard, and he thought 
it right afterwards to apologize for the warmth into which he had been betrayed. 
The speaker, too, was obliged frequently to interfere. On this occasion no less 
than thirty members spoke. And there had probably been few seasons when 
so much disorder had been discoverable in that house. 

The result of the debate was, a permission to those interested in the contin 
uance of the slave-trade to bring counsel to the bar on the twenty-sixth of 
May, and then to introduce such witnesses as might throw further light on the 
propositions in the shortest time : for Mr. Pitt only acquiesced in this new 
measure on a supposition "that there*would be no unnecessary delay, as he 
could by no means submit to the ultimate procrastination of so important a 
business." He even hoped (and in this hope he was joined by Mr. Fox) that 
those concerned would endeavor to bring the whole of the evidence they meant 
to offer at the first examination. 

On the day appointed, the house met for the purpose now specified ; when 
Alderman Newnham, thinking that such an important question should not be 


decided but in a full assembly of the representatives of the nation, moved for 
a call of the house on that day fortnight. Mr. Wilberforce stated that he had 
no objection to such a measure, believing the greater the number present, the 
more favorable it would be to his cause. This motion, however, produced a 
debate and a division, in which it appeared that there were one hundred and 
fifty-eight in favor of it, and twenty-eight against it. The business of the day 
now commenced. The house went into a committee, and Sir William Dolbon 
was put into the chair. Mr. Serjeant Le Blanc was then called in. He made 
an able speech in behalf of his clients ; and introduced John Barnes, esquire, 
as his first witness, whose examination took up the remainder of the day. By 
this step they who were interested in the continuance of the trade attained their 
wishes, for they had now got possession of the ground with their evidence ; 
and they knew they could keep it almost as long as they pleased, for the pur 
poses of delay. 

At length, on the ninth of June, by which time it was supposed that new 
light, and this in sufficient quantity, would have been thrown upon the proposi 
tions, it appeared that only two witnesses had been fully heard. The exami 
nations, therefore, were continued, and they went on till the twenty-third. On 
this day, the order for the call of the house, which had been prolonged, stand 
ing uirepealed, there was a large attendance of members. A motion was then 
made to get rid of the business altogether, but it failed. It was now seen, 
however, that it wat impossible to bring the question to a final decision in this 
session, for they who were interested in it affirmed that they had yet many im 
portant witnesses to introduce. Alderman Newnham, therefore, by the con 
sent of Mr. Wilberforce, moved that " the further consideration of the subject 
be deferred to the next session." 

At the next session, in January, 1790, Mr. Wilberforce carried a motion that 
witnesses should be examined in future in a committee-room, which should be 
open to all members. This was important, as the examinations otherwise 
might have taken up ten years. In the interim, Mr. Clarkson had again 
traversed the kingdom, and collected a respectable body of witnesses. He had 
visited over four hundred vessels. By the 20th of April, all the witnesses in 
favor of the trade had been examined, and an effort was made to have the case 
argued immediately, without hearing the evidence on the other side ; but the 
eloquence of Wilberforce prevailed, supported powerfully by Pitt and Fox, 
and the witnesses for their side were also examined. The session closed before 
half the evidence deemed necessary was heard. 

One circumstance occurred to keep up a hatred of the trade among the peo 
ple in this interval, which, trivial as it was, ought not to be forgotten. The 
amiable poet Cowper had frequently made the slave-trade the subject of his 
contemplation. He had already severely condemned it in his valuable poem, 
The Task. But now he had written three little fugitive pieces upon it. Of 
these the most impressive was that which he called The Negro's Complaint, 
and of which the following is a copy : 



Forced from home and all its pleasures, 

Afric's coast I left forlorn, 
To increase a stranger's treasures, 

O'er the raging billows borne; 
Men from England bought and sold me, 

Paid my price in paltry gold ; 
But, though theirs they have enroll'd me, 

Minds are never to be sold. 

Still in thought as free as ever, 

What are England's rights, I ask, 
Me from my delights to sever 

Me to torture, me to task ? 
Fleecy locks and black complexion 

Cannot forfeit Nature's claim ; 
Skins may differ, but affection 

Dwells in black and white the same. 

Why did all creating Nature 

Make the plant, for which we toil ? 
Sighs must fan it, tears must water, 

Sweat of ours must dress the soil. 
Think, ye masters, iron-hearted, 

Lolling at your jovial boards, 
Think, how many backs have smarted 

For the sweets your cane affords. 

Is there, as you sometimes tell us, 

Is there One, who rules on high T 
Has He bid you buy and sell us, 

Speaking from his throne, the sky f 
Ask Him, if your knotted scourges, 

Fetters, blood-extorting screws, 
Are the means, which duty urges 

Agents of His will to use 1 

Hark I He answers. Wild tornadoes 

Strewing yonder sea with wrecks, 
Wasting towns, plantations, meadows, 

Are the voice with which He speaks. 
He, foreseeing what vexations 

Afric's sons should undergo, 
Fix'd their tyrant's habitations 

Where his whirlwinds answer No I 

By our blood in Afric wasted, 

Ere our necks receiv'd the chain; 
By the miseries, which we tasted 

Crossing, in your barks, the main ; 
By our sufferings, since you brought us 

To the man-degrading mart, 
All sustain'd by patience, taught us 

Only by a broken heart. 


."' .' ..-.;' .": ' . ....-' ' >, . '. : '- * 


Deem our nation brutes no longer, 

Till some reason you shall find 
Worthier of regard, and stronger, 

Than the color of our kind. 
Slaves of gold ! whose sordid dealings 

Tarnish all your boasted powers, 
Prove that you have human feelings, 

Ere you proudly question ours. 

This little piece, Cowper presented in manuscript to some of his friends in 
London ; and these conceiving it to contain a powerful appeal in behalf of 
the injured Africans, joined in printing it. Having ordered it on the finest 
hot pressed paper, and folded it up in a small and neat form, they gave it the 
printed title of "A Subject for Conversation at the Tea-table." After this, 
they sent many thousand copies of it in franks into the country. From one it 
spread to another, till it traveled almost over the whole island. Falling at 
length into the hands of the musician, it was set to music ; and it then found 
its way into the streets, both of the metropolis and of the country, where it 
was sung as a ballad, and where it gave a plain account of the subject, with 
an appropriate feeling to those who heard it. 

Nor was the philanthropy of Mr. Wedgwood less instrumental in turning the 
popular feeling in favor of the cause. He made his manufactory contribute to 
this end. He took the seal of the committee for his 
model ; and he produced a beautiful cameo, of a less 
size, of which the ground was a most delicate white, 
but the negro, who was seen imploring compassion in 
the middle of it, was in his own native color. Mr. 
Wedgwood made a liberal donation of these, when fin 
ished, among his friends. They, to whom they were 
sent, did not lay them up in their cabinets, but gave 
them away likewise. They were soon, like the Negro's 
Complaint, in different parts of the kingdom. Some had them inlaid in gold 
on the lid of their snuff-boxes. Of the ladies several wore them in bracelets, 
and others had them fitted up in an ornamental manner as pins for their hair. 
At length, the taste for wearing them became general ; and thus the fashion, 
which usually confines itself to worthless things, was seen for once in the hon 
orable office of promoting the cause of justice, humanity, and freedom. 

Mr. Clarkson again departed on another tour, and traveled from August, 
1790, to February, 1791, and added new and important witnesses to his list 
The examinations were resumed, and closed finally on the 4th of April. It 
is from this body of evidence, hus given, that we have quoted so extensively 
in former chapters. The evidence having been printed on both sides for the 
use of the members, the 18th of April was the day fixed upon for deciding 
the case. By this time every effort had been made to render the question 
unpopular in the commons. Indemnification, massacre, civil war, ruin, had 
been vociferated in the ears of members. At this time, unhappily, those san 
guinary scenes described in another part of this volume, were taking ")lace in 



St. Domingo, in consequence of the revolution which had been effected there, 
and an insurrection had broken out in the British island of Dominica. All 
these had been industriously exaggerated in print, and produced a terrific 
effect upon many members. In this unfavorable frame of mind they went into 
the house on the day appointed. 

On the eighteenth of April, 1791, Mr. Wilberforce made his motion. He 
began by expressing a hope that the present debate, instead of exciting asper 
ity and confirming prejudice, would tend to produce a general conviction o, 
the truth of what in fact was incontrovertible ; that the abolition of the slave- 
trade was indispensably required of them, not only by morality and religion, 
but by sound policy. He stated that he should argue the matter from the 
evidence. He adverted to the character, situation, and means of information 
of his own witnesses ; and having divided his subject into parts, the first of 
which related- to the manner of reducing the natives of Africa to a state of 
slavery, he handled it in the following manner : 

He would begin, he said, with the first boundary of the trade. Captain 
Wilson and Captain Hills, of his majesty's navy, and Mr. Dalrymple of the 
land service, had concurred in stating, that in the country contiguous to the 
river Senegal, when slave-ships arrived there, armed parties were regularly 
sent out in the evening, who scoured the country, and brought in their prey. 
The wretched victims were to be seen in the morning bound back to back in 
the huts on shore, whence they were conveyed, tied hand and foot, to the slave 
ships. The design of these ravages was obvious, because, when the slave-trade 
was stopped, they ceased. Mr. Kiernan spoke of the constant depredations 
by the Moors to procure slaves. Mr. Wadstrom confirmed them. The latter 
gentleman showed also that they were excited by presents of brandy, gun 
powder, and such other incentives ; and that they were not only carried on by 
one community against another, but that the kings were stimulated to prac 
tice them in their own territories, and on their own subjects : and in one in 
stance a chieftain, who, when intoxicated, could not resist the demands of the 
slave-merchants, had expressed, in a moment of reason, a due sense of his 
own crime, and had reproached his Christian seducers. Abundant also were 
the instances of private rapine. Individuals were kidnapped whilst in their 
fields and gardens. There was an universal feeling of distrust and apprehen 
sion there. The natives never went any distance from home without arms ; 
and when Captain Wilson asked them the reason of it, they pointed to a slave 
ship then lying within sight. 

On the windward coast, it appeared from Lieutenant Story and Mr. Bow 
man, that the evils just mentioned existed, if possible, in a still higher degree. 
They had seen the remains of villages which had been burned, whilst the fields 
of corn were still standing beside them, and every other trace of recent desola 
tion. Here an agent was sent to establish a settlement in the country, and to 
send to the ships such slaves as he might obtain. The orders he received from 
the captain were, that "he was to encourage the chieftains by brandy and gun 
powder to go to war, to make slaves." This he did. The chieftains perforra- 


ed their part in return. The neighboring villages were surrounded and set on 
fire in the night. The inhabitants were seized when making their escape ; and, 
being brought to the agent, were by him forwarded to his principal on the 
coast. Mr. How, a botanist in the service of government, slated that on the 
arrival of an order for slaves from Cape Coast Castle, while he was there, a 
native chief immediately sent forth armed parties, who brought in a supply of 
all descriptions in the night. 

All these atrocities, he said, were fully substantiated by the evidence ; and 
here he should do injustice to his cause if he were not to make a quotation 
from the speech of Mr. Bryan Edwards in the assembly of Jamaica, who, 
though he was hostile to his propositions, had yet the candor to deliver him 
self in the following manner there : "I am persuaded," says he, "that Mr. 
Wilberforce has been rightly informed as to the manner in which slaves are 
generally procured. The intelligence I have collected from my own negroes 
abundantly confirms his account ; and I have not the smallest doubt, that in 
Africa the effects of this trade are precisely such as he has represented them. 
The whole, or the greatest part of that immense continent, is a field of warfare 
and desolation ; a wilderness in which the inhabitants are wolves towards each 
other. That this scene of oppression, fraud, treachery, and bloodshed, if not 
originally occasioned, is in part (I will not say wholly) upheld by the slave- 
trade, I dare not dispute. Every man in the sugar islands may be convinced 
that it is so, who will inquire of any African negroes, on their first arrival, 
concerning the circumstances of their captivity. The assertion that it is other 
wise is mockery and insult." 

It was another effect of this trade that it corrupted the morals of those who 
carried it on. Every fraud was used to deceive the ignorance of the natives 
by false weights and measures, adulterated commodities, and other impositions 
of a like sort. These frauds were even acknowledged by many who had them 
selves practiced them in obedience to the orders of their superiors. For the 
honor of the mercantile character of the country, such a traffic ought immedi 
ately to be suppressed. 

With respect to the miseries of the middle passage, he had said so much on 
a former occasion, that he would spare the feelings of the committee as much as 
he could. He would therefore state that the evidence which was before them 
confirmed all those scenes of wretchedness, which he had then described ; the 
same suffering from a state of suffocation by being crowded together; the 
same dancing in fetters ; the same melancholy singing ; the same eating by 
compulsion ; the same despair ; the same insanity ; and all the other abomina 
tions which characterized the trade. New instances, however, had occurred, 
where these wretched men had resolved on death to terminate their woes 
Some had destroyed themselves by refusing sustenance, in spite of threats and 
punishments. Others had thrown themselves into the sea ; and more than one, 
when in the act of drowning, were seen to wave their hands in triumph, " ex 
ulting (to use the words of an eye-witness) that they had escaped. " Yet these 
and similar things, when viewed through the African medium he had mention- 


ed, took a different shape and color. Captain Knox, an adverse witness, had 
maintained that slaves lay during the night in tolerable comfort. And yet he 
confessed that in a vessel of one hundred and twenty tons, in which he had 
carried two hundred and ninety slaves, the latter had not all of them room to 
lie on their backs. How comfortably, then, must they have lain in his subse 
quent voyages, for he carried afterwards, in a vessel of one hundred and eight 
tons, four hundred and fifty, and in a vessel of one hundred and fifty tons, no 
less than six hundred slaves. Another instance of African deception was to 
be found in the testimony of Captain Frazer, one of the most humane captains 
in the trade. It had been said of him that he had held hot coals to the mouth 
of a slave to compel him to eat. 

But upon whom did the cruelties thus arising out of the prosecution of this 
barbarous traffic fall ? Upon a people with feeling and intellect like ourselves. 
One witness had spoken of the acuteness of their understanding ; another of 
the extent of their memories ; a third of their genius for commerce ; a fourth 
of their proficiency in manufactures at home. Many had admired their gentle 
and peaceable disposition, their cheerfulness, and their hospitality. Even 
they, who were nominally slaves in Africa, lived a happy life. A witness 
against the abolition had described them as sitting and eating with their mas 
ters in the true style of patriarchal simplicity and comfort. Were these, then, 
a people incapable of civilization ? The argument that they were an inferior 
species had been proved to be false. 

Mr. Wilberforce, after showing in a very lucid manner, and by incontestable 
arguments, that the abolition of the trade in question, instead of being an in 
jury, would be a lasting benefit to the West India islands, concluded by decla 
ring that, interested as he might be supposed to be in the final event of the ques 
tion, he was comparatively indifferent as to the present decision of the house upon 
it. Whatever they might do, the people of Great Britain, he was confident, 
would abolish the slave-trade when, as would soon happen, its injustice and 
cruelty should be fairly laid before them. It was a nest of serpents, which 
would never have existed so long, but for the darkness in which they lay hid. 
The light of day would now be let in on them, and they would vanish from the 
sight. For himself, he declared that he was engaged in a work which he would 
never abandon. The consciousness of the justice of his cause would carry him 
forward, though he were alone ; but he could not but derive encouragement 
from considering with whom he was associated. Let ue not, he said, despair. 
It is a blessed cause; and success ere long will crown our exertions. Already 
we have gained one victory. We have obtained for these poor creatures the 
recognition of their human nature, which for a while was most shamefully de 
nied them. This is the first fruit of our efforts. Let us persevere, and our 
triumph will be complete. Never, never will we disist till we have wiped away 
this scandal from the Christian name ; till we have released ourselves from the 
load of guilt under which we at present labor ; and till we have extinguished 
every trace of this bloody traffic, which our posterity, looking back to the his- 


tory of these enlightened times, will scarcely believe had been suffered to exist 
so long, a disgrace and a dishonor to our country. 

He then moved that the chairman be instructed to move for leave to bring 
in a bill to prevent the further importation of slaves into the British colonies 
in the West Indies. 

Colonel Tarleton immediately rose up and began by giving an historical ac 
count of the trade from the reign of Elizabeth to the present time. He then 
proceeded to the sanction which parliament had always given it. Hence it 
could not be withdrawn without a breach of faith. Hence, also, the private 
property embarked in it was sacred ; nor could it be invaded unless an ade 
quate compensation were given in return. They who had attempted the aboli 
tion of the trade were led away by a mistaken humanity. The Africans them 
selves had no objection to its continuance. With respect to the middle pas 
sage, he believed the mortality there to be on an average only five in the hun 
dred ; whereas in regiments sent out to the West Indies, the average loss in 
the year was about ten and a half per cent. The slave-trade was absolutely 
necessary, if we meant to carry on our West India commerce ; for many at 
tempts had been made to cultivate the lands in the different islands by white 
laborers, but they had always failed. It had also the merit of keeping up a 
number of seamen in readiness for the state. Lord Rodney had stated this as 
one of its advantages on the breaking out of a war. Liverpool alone could 
supply nine hundred and ninety-three seamen annually. 

He would now advert to the connections dependent upon the African trade. 
It was the duty of the house to protect the planters, whose lives had been, 
and were then exposed to imminent dangers, and whose property had under 
gone an unmerited depreciation, and to what could this depreciation, and to 
what could the late insurrection at Dominica be imputed, which had been saved 
from horrid carnage and midnight butchery only by the adventitious arrival of 
two British regiments ? They could only be attributed to the long delayed 
question of the abolition of the slave-trade ; and if this question were to go 
much longer unsettled, Jamaica would be endangered also. To members of 
landed property he would observe, that the abolition would lessen the com 
merce of the country, and increase the national debt and the number of their 
taxes. The minister, he hoped, who patronized this wild scheme, had some 
new pecuniary resource in store to supply the deficiencies it would occasion. 

Mr. Grosvenor then rose : He complimented the humanity of Mr. Wilber- 
force, though he differed from him on the subject of his motion. He himself 
had read only the privy council report ; and he wished for no other evidence. 
The question had been delayed two years. Had the abolition been so clear a 
point as it was said to be, it could not have needed either so much evidence or 

He had heard a good deal about kidnapping and other barbarous practices. 
He was sorry for them. But these were the natural consequences of the laws 
of Africa ; and it became us as wise men to turn them to our own advantage. 


fiie slave-trade was certainly not an amiable trade. Neither was that of a 
butcher ; but yet it was a very necessary one. 

There was great reason to doubt the propriety of the present motion. He 
had twenty reasons for disapproving of it. The first was, that the thing was 
impossible. He needed not, therefore, to give the rest. Parliament, indeed, 
might relinquish the trade. But to whom ? To foreigners, who would con 
tinue it, and without the humane regulations which were applied to it by his 

He would give advice to the house on this subject in the words which the 
late Alderman Beckford used on a different occasion: "Meddle not with 
troubled waters ; they will be found to be bitter waters, and waters of afflic 
tion." He again admitted that the slave-trade was not an amiable trade ; 
but he would not gratify his humanity at the expense of the interests of his 
country ; and he thought we should not too curiously inquire into the unpleas 
ant circumstances which attended it. 

Mr. James Martin succeeded Mr. Grosvenor. He said he had been long 
aware how much self-interest could pervert the judgment ; but he was not ap 
prised of the full power of it till the slave-trade became a subject of discus 
sion. He had always conceived that the custom of trafficking in human beings 
had been incautiously begun, and without any reflection upon it ; for he never 
could believe that any man, under the influence of moral principles, could suf 
fer himself knowingly to carry on a trade replete with fraud, cruelty, and de 
struction ; with destruction, indeed, of the worst kind, because it subjected the 
sufferers to a lingering death. But he found now that even such a trade as this 
could be sanctioned. 

It was well observed in the petition from the university of Cambridge against 
the slave-trade, " that a firm belief in the providence of a benevolent Creator 
assured them that no system, founded on the oppression of one part of man 
kind, could be beneficial to another. " He felt much concern, that in an assem 
bly of the representatives of a country, boasting itself zealous, not only for the 
preservation of its own liberties, but for the general rights of mankind, it 
should be necessary to say a single word upon such a subject ; but the deceit- 
fulness of the human heart was such as to change the appearances of truth, 
when it stood in opposition to self-interest. And he had to lament that even 
among those whose public duty it was to cling to the universal and eternal 
principles of truth, justice, and humanity, there were found some who could 
defend that which was unjust, fraudulent and cruel. 

The doctrines he had heard that evening, ought to have been reserved for 
times the most flagrantly profligate and abandoned. He never expected then 
to learn that the everlasting laws of righteousness were to give way to imagi 
nary, political, and commercial expediency ; and that thousands of our fellow- 
creatures were to be reduced to wretchedness, that individuals might enjoy 
opulence, or government a revenue. 

This motion, he said, came strongly recommended to them. The honorable 
member who had introduced it, was justly esteemed for his character. He was 


the representative, too, of a noble county, which had been always ready to take 
the lead in every public measure for the good of the community, or for the 
general benefit of mankind ; of a county, too, which had had the honor of 
producing a Saville. Had his illustrious predecessor been alive, he would 
have shown the same zeal on the same occasion. The preservation of the un- 
alienable rights of all his fellow-creatures was one of the chief characteristics 
of that excellent citizen. Let every member in that house imitate him in the 
purity of their conduct and in the universal rectitude of their measures, and 
they would pay the same tender regard to the rights of other countries as to 
those of their own ; and, for his part, he should never believe those persons to 
be sincere, who were loud in their professions of love of liberty, if he saw that 
love confined to the narrow circle of one community, which ought to be extend 
ed to the natural rights of every inhabitant of the globe. 

But we should be better able to bring ourselves up to this standard of recti 
tude, if we were to put ourselves into the situation of those whom we oppressed. 
This was the rule of our religion. What should we think of those who should 
say that it was their interest to injure us ? But he hoped we should not de 
ceive ourselves so grossly as to imagine, that it was our real interest to oppress 
any one. The advantages to be obtained by tyranny were imaginary, and de 
ceitful to the tyrant ; and the evils they caused to the oppressed were grievous, 
and often insupportable. 

Before he sat down, he would apologize, if he had expressed himself too 
warmly on this subject. He did not mean to offend any one. There were 
persons connected with the trade, some of whom he pitied on account of the 
difficulty of their situation. But he should think most contemptibly of him 
self as a man, if he could talk on this traffic without emotion. It would be a 
sign to him of his own moral degradation He regretted his inability to do 
justice to such a cause ; but if, in having attempted to forward it, he had shown 
the weakness of his powers, he must console himself with the consideration 
that he felt more solid comfort in having acted up to sound public principles, 
than he could have done from the exertion of the most splendid talents against 
the conviction of his conscience. 

Mr. Francis instanced an overseer, who, having thrown a negro into a 
copper of boiling cane-juice for a trifling offense, was punished merely by the 
loss of his place, and by being obliged to pay the value of the slave. He 
stated another instance of a girl of fourteen, who was dreadfully whipped for 
coming too late to her work. She fell down motionless after it, and was then 
dragged along the ground, by the legs, to a hospital, where she died. The 
murderer, though tried, was acquitted by a jury of his peers, upon the idea 
that it was impossible a master could destroy his own property. This was a 
notorious fact. It was published in the Jamaica Gazette ; and it had even 
happened since the question of the abolition had been started. 

Mr. Fox said that he would not believe that there could be found in the 
house of commons, men of such hard hearts and inaccessible understandings, 
as to vote an assent to the continuance of this detestable trade, and then go 


home to their families, satisfied with their vote, after they had been once made 
acquainted with the subject. 

Mr. Matthe\v Montagu rose, and said a few words in support of the motion; 
and after condemning the trade in the strongest manner, he declared, that as 
long as he had life, he would use every faculty of his body and mind in endea 
voring to promote its abolition. 

Lord John Russell succeeded Mr Montagu. He said that although slavery 
was repugnant to his feelings, he must vote against the abolition, as visionary 
and delusive. It was a feeble attempt without the power to serve the cause 
of humanity. Other nations would take up the trade. Whenever a bill of 
wise regulations should be brought forward, no man would be more ready than 
himself to lend his support. In this way the rights of humanity might be 
asserted without injury to others. He hoped he should not incur censure by 
his vote ; for, let his understanding be what it might, he did not know that he 
had, notwithstanding the assertions of Mr. Fox, an inaccessible heart. 

Mr. William Smith remarked : That the slaves were exposed to great misery 
in the islands, was true as well from inference as from facts ; for what might 
not be expected from the use of arbitrary power, where the three characters of 
party, judge, and executioner were united ! The slaves, too, were more capable 
on account of their passions, than the beasts of the field, of exciting the pas 
sions of their tyrants. To what a length the ill treatment of them might be 
carried, might be learnt from the instance which General Tottenham mentioned 
to have seen in the year 1780, in the streets of Bridge Town, Barbadoes : "A 
youth about nineteen, (to use his own words in the evidence,) entirely naked, 
with an iron collar about his neck, having five long projecting spikes. His 
body, both before and behind, was covered with wounds. His belly and thighs 
were almost cut to pieces, with running ulcers all over them ; and a finger 
might have been laid in some of the weals. He could not sit down, because 
his hinder part was mortified ; and it was impossible for him to lie down, on 
account of the prongs of his collar." He supplicated the general for relief. 
The latter asked who had punished him so dreadfully ? The youth answered 
his master had done it. And because he could not work, this same master, in 
the same spirit of perversion which extorts from scripture a justification of 
the slave-trade, had fulfilled the apostolic maxim, that he should have nothing 
to eat. The use he meant to make of this instance, was to show the unpro 
tected state of the slaves. What must it be where such an instance could pass 
not only unpunished, but almost unregarded ? If, in the streets of London, 
but a dog were to be seen lacerated like this miserable man, how would the 
cruelty of the wretch be execrated, who had thus even abused a brute ! 

The judicial punishments also inflicted upon the negro showed the low esti 
mation in which, in consequence of the strength of old customs and deep-rooted 
prejudices, they were held. Mr. Edwards, in his speech to the assembly at 
Jamaica, stated the following case, as one which had happened in one of the 
rebellions there. Some slaves had surrounded the dwelling-house of their mis 
tress. She was in bed with a lovely infant. They deliberated upon the means 


of putting her to death in torment. But in the end one of them reserved her 
for his mistress ; and they killed her infant with an axe before her face. " Now," 
says Mr. Edwards, (addressing himself to his audience,) "you will think that 
no torments were too great for such horrible excesses. Nevertheless, I am of 
a different opinion. I think that death, unaccompanied with cruelty, should be 
the utmost exertion of human authority over our unhappy fellow-creatures. n 
Torments, however, were always inflicted in these cases. The punishment waa 
gibbeting alive, and exposing the delinquents to perish by the gradual effects 
of hunger, thirst, and a parching sun ; in which situation they were known to 
suffer for nine days, with a fortitude scarcely credible, never uttering a single 
groan. But horrible as the excesses might have been, which occasioned these 
punishments, it must be remembered that they were committed by ignorant 
savages, who had been dragged from all they held most dear ; whose patience 
had been exhausted by a cruel and loathsome confinement during their trans 
portation ; and whose resentment had been wound up to the highest pitch of 
fury by the lash of the driver. 

But he would now mention another instance, by way of contrast, out of the 
evidence. A child on board a slave-ship, of about ten months old, became 
sulky and would not eat. The captain flogged it with a cat, swearing that 
he would make it eat, or kill it. From this and other ill treatment the child's 
legs swelled. He then ordered some water to be made hot to abate the swell 
ing. But even his tender mercies were cruel ; for the cook, on putting his 
hand into the water, said it was too hot. Upon this the captain swore at him, 
and ordered the feet to be put in. This was done. The nails and skin came 
off. Oiled cloths were then put round them. The child was at length tied to 
a heavy log. Two or three days afterwards, the captain caught it up again, 
and repeated that he would make it eat, or kill it. He immediately flogged it 
again, and in a quarter of an hour it died. But, after the child was dead, whom 
should the barbarian select to throw it overboard but the wretched mother? 
In vain she started from the office. He beat her till he made her take up the 
child and carry it to the side of the vessel. She then dropped it into the sea, 
turning her head the other way that she might not see it. 

Now it would naturally be asked, Was not this captain also gibbeted alive ? 
Alas ! although the execrable barbarity of the European exceeded that of the 
Africans before mentioned, almost as much as his opportunities of instruction 
had been greater than theirs, no notice whatsoever was taken of this horrible 
action ; and a thousand similar cruelties had been committed in this abomina 
ble trade with equal impunity : but he would say no more. He should vote for 
the abolition, not only as it would do away all the evils complained of in Af 
rica and the middle passage, but as it would be the most effectual means of 
ameliorating the condition of those unhappy persons who were still to continue 
slaves in the British colonies. 

Mr. Courtenay entreated every member to recollect that on his vote that 
night depended the happiness of millions ; and that it was then in his power 
to promote a measure of which the benefits would be felt over one whole quar 


ter of the globe ; that the seeds of civilization might, by the present bill, be 
sown all over Africa ; and the first principles of humanity be established in re 
gions where they had hitherto been excluded by the existence of this execrable 

Mr. Pitt rose and said that from the first hour of his having had the honor 
to sit in parliament down to the present, among all the questions, whether po 
litical or personal, in which it had been his fortune to take a share, there had 
never been one in which his heart was so deeply interested as in the present ; 
Loth on account of the serious principles it involved, and the consequences 
connected with it. 

The present was not a mere question of feeling. The argument which 
ought in his opinion to determine the committee, was, that the slave-trade was 
unjust. It was therefore such a trade as it was impossible for him to support, 
unless it could be first proved to him that there were no laws of morality bind 
ing upon nations ; and that it was not the duty of a legislature to restrain its 
subjects from invading the happiness of other countries, and from violating the 
fundamental principles of justice. 

Several had stated the impracticability of the measure before them. They 
wished to see the trade abolished ; but there was some necessity for continuing 
in it which they conceived to exist. Nay, almost every one, he believed, ap 
peared to wish that the further importation of slaves might cease, provided it 
could be made out that the population of the West Indies could be maintained 
without it. He proposed, therefore, to consider the latter point; for, as the 
impracticability of keeping up the population there appeared to operate as the 
chief objection, he trusted that, by showing it to be ill founded, he should clear 
away all other obstacles whatever ; so that, having no ground either of justice or 
necessity to stand upon, there could be no excuse left to the committee for re 
sisting the present motion. 

He might reasonably, however, hope that they would not reckon any small 
or temporary disadvantage which might arise from the abolition to be a suffi 
cient reason against it. It was surely not any slight degree of expediency, 
nor any small balance of profit, nor any light shades of probability on the one 
side, rather than on the other, which would determine them on this question. 
He asked pardon even for the supposition. The slave-trade was an evil of 
such magnitude that there must be a common wish in the committee at once to 
put an end to it, if there were no great and serious obstacles. It was a trade 
by which multitudes of unoffending nations were deprived of the blessings of 
civilization, and had their peace and happiness invaded. It ought, therefore, 
to be no common expediency, it ought to be nothing less than the utter ruin of 
our islands which it became those to plead who took upon them to defend the 
continuance of it. 

He could not help thinking that the West India gentlemen had manifested 
an over great degree of sensibility as to the point in question ; and that their 
alarms had been unreasonably excited upon it. He had examined the subject 
carefully for himself; and he would now detail those reasons which had in- 


duced him firmly to believe not only that no permanent mischief would follow 
from the abolition, but not even any such temporary inconvenience as could be 
stfited to be a reason for preventing the house from agreeing to the motion be 
fore them ; on the contrary, that the abolition itself would lay the foundation 
for the more solid improvement of all the various interests of those colonies. 

In doing this, he should apply his observations chiefly to Jamaica, which 
contained more than half the slaves in the British West Indies ; and if he 
should succeed in proving that no material detriment could arise to the popu 
lation there, this would afford so strong a presumption with respect to the other 
islands, that the house could no longer hesitate whether they should or should 
not put a stop to this most horrid trade. 

In the twenty years ending in 1788, the annual loss of slaves in Jamaica, 
(that is, the excess of deaths above the births,) appeared to be one in the hun 
dred. In a preceding period the loss was greater ; and, in a period before 
that, greater still ; there having been a continual gradation in the decrease 
through the whole time. It might fairly be concluded, therefore, that (the av 
erage loss of the last period being one per cent.) the loss in the former part 
of it would be somewhat more, and in the latter part somewhat less than one 
per cent., insomuch that it might be fairly questioned whether, by this time, the 
births and deaths in Jamaica might not be stated as nearly equal. It was to 
be added that a peculiar calamity, which swept away fifteen thousand slaves, 
had occasioned a part of the mortality in the last mentioned period. The 
probable loss, therefore, now to be expected was very inconsiderable indeed. 

There was, however, one circumstance to be added, which the West India 
gentlemen, in stating this matter, had entirely overlooked ; and which was so 
material as clearly to reduce the probable diminution in the population of Ja 
maica down to nothing. In all the calculations he had referred to of the com 
parative number of births and deaths, all the negroes in the island were in 
cluded. The newly imported, who died in the seasoning, made a part. But 
these swelled, most materially, the number of the deaths. Now as these ex 
traordinary deaths would cease as soon as the importations ceased, a deduction 
of them ought to be made from his present calculation. 

But the number of those who thus died in the seasoning would make up of 
itself nearly the whole of that one per cent, which had been stated. He par 
ticularly pressed an attention to this circumstance ; for the complaint of being 
likely to want hands in Jamaica arose from the mistake of including the pres 
ent unnatural deaths, caused by the seasoning, among the natural and perpet 
ual causes of mortality. These deaths, being erroneously taken into the cal 
culations, gave the planters an idea that the numbers could not be kept up. 
These deaths, which were caused merely by the slave-trade, furnished the very 
ground, therefore, on which the continuance of that trade had been thought 

The evidence as to this point was clear ; for it would be found in that dread 
ful catalogue of deaths arising from the seasoning and the passage, which the 
house had been condemned to look into, that one half died. An annual mor- 


tality of two thousand slaves in Jamaica might be therefore charged to the im 
portation ; which, compared with the whole number on the island, hardly fell 
short of the whole one per cent, decrease. 

Joining this with all the other considerations, he would then ask, could the 
decrease of the slaves in Jamaica be such ; could the colonies be so destitute 
of means ; could the planters, when, by their own accounts, they were estab 
lishing daily new regulations for the benefit of the slaves ; could they, under 
all these circumstances, be permitted to plead the total impossibility of keeping 
up their number, which they had rested on, as being indeed the only possible 
pretext for allowing fresh importations from Africa ? He appealed, therefore, 
to the sober judgment of all, whether the situation of Jamaica was such as to 
justify a hesitation in agreeing to the present motion. 

It might be observed, also, that when the importations should stop, that dis 
proportion between the sexes which was one of the obstacles to population, 
would gradually diminish, and a natural order of things be established. 
Through the want of this natural order, a thousand grievances were created, 
which it was impossible to define, and which it was in vain to think that, under 
such circumstances, we could cure. But the abolition of itself would work this 
desirable effect. The West Indians would then feel a near and urgent interest 
to enter into a thousand little details which it was impossible for him to de 
scribe, but which would have the greatest influence on population. A founda 
tion would thus be laid for the general welfare of the islands ; a new system 
would rise up, the reverse of the old ; and eventually both their general wealth 
and happiness would increase. 

He had now proved far more than he was bound to do ; for, if he could only 
show that the abolition would not be ruinous, it would be enough. He could 
give up, therefore, three arguments out of four, through the whole of what he 
had said, and yet have enough left for his position. As to the Creoles, they 
would undoubtedly increase. They differed in this entirely from the imported 
slaves, who were both a burthen and a curse to themselves and others. The 
measure now proposed would operate like a charm ; and, besides stopping all 
the miseries in Africa and the passage, would produce even more benefit in the 
West Indies than legal regulations could effect. 

He would now just touch upon the question of emancipation. A rash eman 
cipation of the slaves would be mischievous. In that unhappy situation, to 
which our baneful conduct had brought ourselves and them, it would be no jus 
tice on either side to give them liberty. They were as yet incapable of it; but 
their situation might be gradually amended. They might be relieved from 
every thing harsh and severe ; raised from their present degraded state, and 
put under the protection of the law. Till then, to talk of emancipation was 
insanity. But it was the system of fresh importations which interfered with 
these principles of improvement ; and it was only the abolition which could es 
tablish them. The suggestion had its foundation in human nature. Wherever 
the incentive of honor, credit, and fair profit appeared, energy would spring 


up ; and when these laborers should have the natural springs of human action 
afforded them, they would then rise to the natural level of human industry. 

From Jamaica he would now go to the other islands. In Barbadoes the 
slaves had rather increased. In St. Kitts the decrease for fourteen years had 
been but three-fourths per cent., but here many of the observations would ap 
ply which he had used in the case of Jamaica. In Antigua many had died 
by a particular calamity. But for this, the decrease would have been trifling. 
In Nevis and Montserrat there was little or no disproportion of the sexes ; so 
(hat it might well be hoped that the numbers would be kept up in these islands. 
In Dominica some controversy had arisen about the calculation ; but Governor 
Orde had stated an increase of births above the deaths. From Grenada and 
St. Vincents no accurate accounts had been delivered in answer to the queries 
sent them ; but they were probably not in circumstances less favorable than in 
the other islands. 

On a full review, then, of the state of the negro population in the West In 
dies, was there any serious ground of alarm from the abolition of the slave- 
trade ? Where was the impracticability on which alone so many had rested 
their objections ? Must we not blush at pretending that it would distress our 
consciences to accede to this measure, as far as the question of the negro pop 
ulation was concerned ? 

Intolerable were the mischiefs of this trade, both in its origin and through 
every stage of its progress. To say that slaves could be furnished us by fair 
and commercial means was ridiculous. The trade sometimes ceased, as during 
the late war. The demand was more or less, according to circumstances. But 
how was it possible, that to a demand so exceedingly fluctuating, the supply 
should always exactly accommodate itself? Alas! we made human beings the 
subject of commerce ; we talked of them as such ; and yet we would not al 
low them the common principle of commerce, that the supply must accommo 
date itself to the consumption. It was not from wars, then, that the slaves 
were chiefly procured. They were obtained in proportion as they were 
wanted. If a demand for slaves arose, a supply was forced in one way or 
other ; and it was in vain, overpowered as we then were with positive evi 
dence, as well as the reasonableness of the supposition, to deny that by the 
slave-trade we occasioned all the enormities which had been alleged against it. 

Mr. Fox again rose and observed, that some expressions which he had used 
had been complained of as too harsh and severe. He had since considered 
them ; but he could not prevail upon himself to retract them ; because, if any 
gentleman, after reading the evidence on the table, and attending to the de 
bate, could avow himself an abettor of this shameful traffic in human flesh, it 
could only be either from some hardness of heart, or some difficulty of under 
standing, which he really knew not how to account for 

Some had considered this question as a question of political, whereas it was 
a question of personal freedom. Political freedom was undoubtedly a great 
blessing ; but, when it came to be compared with personal, it sunk to nothing. 
To confound the two, served therefore to render all arguments on either per- 


plexiiig and unintelligible. Personal freedom was the first right of every 
human being. It was a right, of which he who deprived a fellow-creature 
was absolutely criminal in so depriving him, and which he who withheld was 
no less criminal in withholding. He could not therefore retract his words 
with respect to any, who (whatever regard he might otherwise have for them) 
should, by their vote of that night, deprive their fellow-creatures of so great a 
blessing. Nay, he would go further. He would say, that if the house, know 
ing what the trade was by the evidence, did not by their vote mark to all 
mankind their abhorrence of a practice so savage, so enormous, so repugnant 
to all laws, human and divine, they would consign their character to eternal 

That the pretense of danger to our West Indian- islands, from the abolition 
of the slave-trade, was totally unfounded, Mr. Wilberforce had abundantly 
proved : but if there were those who had not been satisfied with that proof, 
was it possible to resist the arguments of Mr. Pitt on the same subject? It 
had been shown, on a comparison of the births and deaths in Jamaica, that 
there was not now any decrease of the slaves. But if there had been, it would 
have made no difference to him in his vote ; for, had the mortality been ever 
so great there, he should have ascribed it to the system of importing negroes, 
instead of that of encouraging their natural increase. Was it not evident 
that the planters thought it more convenient to buy them fit for work than to 
breed them ? Why, then, was this horrid trade to be kept up ? To give the 
planters, truly, the liberty of misusing their slaves, so as to check population : 
for it was from ill usage only that in a climate so natural to them, their num 
bers could diminish. The very ground, therefore, on which the planters rested 
the necessity of fresh importations, namely, the destruction of lives in the 
West Indies, was itself the strongest argument that could be given, and fur 
nished the most imperious call upon parliament for the abolition of the trade. 

Against this trade innumerable were the charges. An honorable member, 
Mr. Smith, had done well to introduce those tragical stories, which had made 
such an impression upon the house. No one of these had been yet contro 
verted. It had indeed been said that the cruelty of the African captain to the 
child was too bad to be true; and we had been desired to look at the cross- 
examination of the witness, as if we should find traces of the falsehood of his 
testimony there. But his cross-examination was peculiarly honorable to his 
character ; for after he had been pressed, in the closest manner, by some able 
members of the house, the only inconsistency they could fix upon him was, 
whether the fact had happened on the same day of the same month of the year 
1764, or the year 1765. 

But it was idle to talk of the incredibility of such instances. It was not de 
nied that absolute power was exercised by the slave captains ; and if this was 
granted, all the cruelties charged upon them would naturally follow. Never 
did he hear of charges so black and horrible as those contained in the evidence 
on the table. They unfolded such a scene of cruelty, that if the house, with 
all their present knowledge of the circumstances, should dare to vote for its 


continuance, they must have nerves of which he had no conception. We 
might find instances, indeed, in history, of men violating the feelings of nature 
on extraordinary occasions. Fathers had sacrificed their sons and daughters, 
and husbands their wives ; but to imitate their characters, we ought to have 
not only nerves as strong as the two Brutuses, but to take care that we had a 
cause as good ; or that we had motives for such a dereliction of our feelings 
as patriotic as those which historians had attributed to these when they handed 
them to the notice of the world. 

But what was our motive in the case before us, to continue a trade which 
was a wholesale sacrifice of a whole order and race of our fellow-creatures ? 
which carried them away by force from their native country, in order to subject 
them to the mere will and caprice, the tyranny and oppression of other human 
beings, for their whole natural lives, them and their posterity for ever ! 
most monstrous wickedness ! unparalleled barbarity ! And, what was more 
aggravating, this most complicated sceue of robbery and murder which man 
kind had ever witnessed, had been honored by the name of trade. 

That a number of human beings should be at all times ready to be furnished 
as fair articles of commerce, just as our occasions might require, was absurd. 
The argument of Mr. Pitt, on this head, was unanswerable. Our demand was 
fluctuating; it entirely ceased at some times ; at others it was great and press 
ing. How was it possible, on every sudden call, to furnish a sufficient return 
in slaves without resorting to those execrable means of obtaining them which 
were stated in the evidence ? These were of three sorts, and he would now 
examine them. 

Captives in war, it was urged, were consigned either to death or slavery. 
This, however, he believed to be false in point of fact. But suppose it were 
true ; did it not become us, with whom it was a custom, founded in the wisest 
policy, to pay the captives a peculiar respect and civility, to inculcate the 
same principles in Africa ? But we were so far from doing this, that we en 
couraged wars for the sake of taking, not men's goods and possessions, but 
men themselves ; and it was not the war which was the cause of the slave- 
trade, but the slave-thrade which was the cause of the war. It was the prac 
tice of the slave-merchants to try to intoxicate the African kings in order to 
turn them to their purpose. A particular instance occurred in the evidence 
of a prince, who, when sober, resisted their wishes ; but in the moment of 
inebriety, he gave the word for war, attacked the next village, and sold the 
inhabitants to the merchants. 

The second mode was kidnapping. He referred the house to various in 
stances of this in the evidence : but there was one in particular, from which we 
might immediately infer the frequency of the practice. A black trader had 
kidnapped a girl and sold her ; but he was presently afterwards kidnapped and 
sold himself; and, when he asked the captain who bought him, " What ! do 
you buy me, who am a great trader?" the only answer was, "Yes, I will buy 
you, or her, or any body else, provided any one will sell you;" and accordingly 
both the trader and the girl were carried to the West Indies and sold for slaves. 


The third mode of obtaining slaves was by crimes committed or imputed. 
One of these was adultery. But was Africa the place, where Englishmen, 
above all others, were to go to find out and punish adulterers ? Did it become 
ns to cast the first stone ? It was a most extraordinary pilgrimage for a most 
extraordinary purpose ! And yet upon this plea we justified our right of car 
rying off its inhabitants. The offense alleged next was witchcraft? What a 
reproach it was to lend ourselves to this superstition ! Yes : we stood by ; 
we heard the trial; we knew the crime to be impossible, and that the accused 
must be innocent : but we waited in patient" silence for his condemnation; and 
then we lent our friendly aid to the police of the country, by buying the 
wretched convict, with all his family, whom, for the benefit of Africa, we car 
ried away, also, into perpetual slavery. 

Of the slaves in the West Indies it had been said that they were taken from 
a worse state to a better. An honorable member, Mr. William Smith, had 
quoted some instances out of the evidence to the contrary. He also would 
quote one or two others. A slave under hard usage had run away. To pre 
vent a repetition of the offense his owner sent for his surgeon, and desired 
him to cut off the man's leg. The surgeon refused. The owner, to render it 
a matter of duty in the surgeon, broke it. "Now," says he, " you must cut it 
off. or the man will die." We might console ourselves, perhaps, that this 
happened in a French island ; but he would select another instance which had 
happened in one of our own. Mr. Ross heard the shrieks of a female issuing 
from an out-house, and so piercing that he determined to see what was going 
on. On looking in he perceived a young female tied up to a beam by her 
wrists, entirely naked, and in the act of involuntary writhing and swinging, 
while the author of her torture was standing below her with a lighted torch in 
his hand, which he applied to all the parts of her body as it approached him. 
What crime this miserable woman had perpetrated he knew not ; but the hu 
man mind could not conceive a crime warranting such a punishment. 

He was glad to see that theso tales affected the house. Would they then 
sanction enormities, the bare recital of which made them shudder ? Let them 
remember that humanity did not consist in a squeamish ear. It did not con 
sist in shrinking and starting at such tales as these ; but in a disposition of the 
heart to remedy the evils they unfolded. Humanity belonged rather to the 
mind than to the nerves. But if so, it should prompt men to charitable exer 
tion. Such exertion was necessary in the present case. It was necessary for 
the credit of our jurisprudence at home and our character abroad. For what 
would any man think of our justice who should see another hanged for a crime 
which would be innocence itself, if compared with those enormities which 
were allowed in Africa and the West Indies under the sanction of the British 

With respect to the intellect and sensibility of the Africans, it was pride 
only which suggested a difference between them and ourselves. There was a 
remarkable instance to the point in the evidence, and which he would quote. 
In one of the slave-ships was a person of consequence, a man once high in 


a military station, and with a mind not insensible to the eminence of his rank. 
He had been taken captive and sold, and. was then in the hold, confined pro 
miscuously with the rest. Happening in the night to fall asleep, he dreamed 
that he was in his own country, high in honor and command, caressed by his 
family and friends, waited on by his domestics, and surrounded with all his 
former comforts in life. But awaking suddenly and finding where he was, he 
was heard to burst into the loudest groans and lamentations on the miserable 
contrast of his present state, mixed with the meanest of t his subjects, and sub 
jected to the insolence of wretches a thousand times lower than himself in 
every kind of endowment. He appealed to the house, whether this was not 
as moving a picture of the miserable effects of the slave-trade as could be well 
imagined. There was one way by which they might judge of it. Let them 
make the case their own. This was the Christian rule of judging ; and having 
mentioned Christianity, he was sorry to find that any should suppose that it 
had given countenance to such a system of oppression. So far was this from 
being the case, that he thought it one of the most splendid triumphs of this 
religion, that it had caused slavery to be so generally abolished on its appear 
ance in the world. It had done this by teaching us, among other beautiful 
precepts, that in the sight of their Maker, all mankind were equal. Its in 
fluence appeared to have been more powerful in this respect than that of all 
the ancient systems of philosophy ; though even in these, in point of theory, 
we might trace great liberality and consideration for human rights. Where 
could be found finer sentiments of liberty than in Demosthenes and Cicero ? 
Where bolder assertions of the rights of mankind than in Tacitus and Thucy- 
dides ? But alas ! these were the holders of slaves ! It was not so with those 
who had been converted to Christianity. 

He would now conclude by declaring that the whole country, indeed the 
whole civilized world, must rejoice that such a bill as the present had been 
moved for, not merely as a matter of humanity, but as an act of justice ; for 
he would put humanity out of the case. Could it be called humanity to for 
bear from committing murder ? Exactly upon this ground did the present 
motion stand, being strictly a question of national justice. He thanked Mr. 
Wilberforce for having pledged himself so strongly to pursue his object till it 
was accomplished ; and, as for himself, he declared, that in whatever situation 
he might ever be, he would use his warmest efforts for the promotion of this 
righteous cause. 

Mr. Stanley (the member for Lancashire) rose, and declared that when he 
came into the house, he intended to vote against the abolition ; but that the 
impression made both on his feelings and on his understanding was such, that 
he could not persist in his resolution. He was now convinced that the entire 
abolition of the slave-trade was called for equally by sound policy and justice 
He thought it right and fair to avow manfully this change in his opinion. The 
abolition, he was sure, could not long fail of being carried. The arguments 
for it were irresistible. 

The Honorable Mr. Ryder said that he came to the house, not exactly in 










! - i '* ' 

* -IK*- 



the same circumstances as Mr. Stanley, but very undecided on the subject. He 
was, however, so strongly convinced by the arguments he had heard, that he 
was become equally earnest for the abolition. 

Mr. Smith (member for Pontefract) said that he should not trouble the 
house at so late an hour further than to enter his protest, in the most solemn 
manner, against this trade, which he considered as most disgraceful to the 
country, and contrary to all the principles of justice and religion. 

Mr. Burke said he would use but few words. He declared that he had for 
long time had his mind drawn toward this great subject. He had even pre 
pared a bill for the regulation of the trade, conceiving at that time that the 
immediate abolition of it was a thing hardly to be hoped for ; but when he found 
that Mr. Wilberforce had seriously undertaken the work, and that his motion 
was for the abolition, which he approved much more than his own, he had 
burnt his papers, and made an offering of them in honor of his nobler propo 
sition, much in the same manner as we read that the curious books were offered 
up and burnt at the approach of the Gospel. He highly applauded the con 
fessions of Mr. Stanley and Mr. Ryder. It would be a glorious tale for them 
to tell their constituents, that it was impossible for them, however prejudiced, if 
sent to hear discussion in that house, to avoid surrendering up their hearts and 
judgments at the shrine of reason. 

Mr. Wilberforce made a short reply to some arguments in the course of the 
debate ; after which, at half-past three in the morning, the house divided. 
There appeared for Mr. Wilberforce's motion eighty-eight, and against it one 
hundred and sixty-three ; so that it was lost by a majority of seventy-five 

Upon the news of this defeat the friends of the cause held a meeting. They 
passed a vote of thanks to the illustrious minority which had stood forth in the 
house of commons as the assertors of British justice and humanity ; and they 
resolved not to desist from appealing to their countrymen until the commercial 
intercourse with Africa should cease to be polluted with the blood of its in 
habitants. Mr. Clarkson made an abridgment of the evidence before the house 
of commons, which was circulated through the kingdom. Great numbers of 
people left off the use of articles produced by slave labor, and vented their 
feelings in public meetings to address parliament on the subject; and this they 
did with so much earnestness and activity, that by the latter end of March, in 
1792, no less than 517 petitions were laid on the table of the commons, pray 
ing for the total abolition of the slave-trade. Emboldened and supported by 
the people, Mr. Wilberforce again introduced the question on the 2d of April, 
1792, and after a speech of four hours, moved "that it is the opinion of this 
house that the African slave-trade ought to be abolished." This led to a long 
and interesting debate. Never in the house of commons was so much splendid 
oratory displayed as on that night. We extract from the parliamentary 
records a report of some of the speeches made on that occasion. 

Mr. Wilberforce opened the debate in a luminous and impressive speech. 
A.fter remarking at considerable length upon the evils and the injuries of the 
15 % 


slave-trade, he touched upon the argument so often repeated, that other na 
tions would carry on the slave-trade if we abandoned it. But how did we 
know this ? Had not Denmark given a noble example to the contrary ? She 
had consented to abolish the trade in ten years ; and had she not done this, 
even though we, after an investigation of nearly five years, had ourselves hung 
back ? But what might not be expected if we were to take up the cause in 
earnest ; if we were to proclaim to all nations the injustice of the trade, and 
to solicit their concurrence in the abolition of it 1 He hoped the representa 
tives of the nation would not be less just than the people. The latter had 
stepped forward and expressed their sense more generally by petitions than in 
any instance in which they had ever before interfered. To see this great 
cause thus triumphing over distinctions and prejudices was a noble spectacle. 
Whatever might be said of our political divisions, such a sight had taught us 
that there were subjects still beyond the reach of party ; that there was a point 
of elevation where we ascended above the jarring of the discordant elements 
which ruffled and agitated the vale below. In our ordinary atmosphere, clouds 
and vapors obscured the air, and we were the sport of a thousand conflicting 
winds and adverse currents ; but here we moved in a higher region, where all 
was pure and clear, and free from perturbation and discomposure. 

' ' As some tall cliff, that lifts its awful form, 
Swells from the vale, and midway leaves the storm : 
Though round its breast the rolling clouds are spread, 
Eternal sunshine settles on its head." 

Here, then, on this august eminence, he hoped we should build the temple 
of benevolence ; but we should lay its foundation deep in truth and justice ; 
and that we should inscribe upon its gates, "Peace and good will to men." 
Here we should offer the first fruits of our benevolence, and endeavor to com 
pensate, if possible, for the injuries we had brought upon our fellow-men. 

He would only observe that his conviction of the indispensable necessity of 
immediately abolishing this trade remained as strong as ever. Let those who 
talk of allowing three or four years to the continuance of it, reflect on the dis 
graceful scenes which had passed last year As for himself, he would wash his 
hands of the blood which would be spilled in this horrid interval. He could 
not, however, but believe that the hour was come when we should put a final 
period to the existence of this cruel traffic. Should he unhappily be mistaken, 
he would never desert the cause ; but to the last moment of his life he would 
exert his utmost powers in its support. He would now move, " That it is the 
opinion of this committee that the trade carried on by British subjects, for the 
purpose of obtaining slaves on the coast of Africa, ought to be abolished." 

Mr. Bailie was in hopes that the friends of the abolition would have been 
contented with the innocent blood which had been already shed. The great 
island of St. Domingo had been torn to pieces by insurrections. The most 
dreadful barbarities had been perpetrated there. In the year 1189, the im 
ports into it exceeded five millions sterling. The exports from it in the same 
vear amounted to six millions ; and the trade employed three hundred thou- 


sand tons of shipping, and thirty thousand seamen. This fine island, thus ad 
vantageously situated, had been lost in consequence of the agitation of the 
question of the slave-trade. Surely, so much mischief ought to have satisfied 
those who supported it ; but they required the total destruction of all the West 
Indian colonies belonging to Great Britain to complete the ruin. 

The honorable gentleman who had just spoken, had dwelt upon the enormi 
ties of the slave-trade. He was far from denying that many acts of inhu 
manity might accompany it ; but as human nature was much the same every 
where, it would be unreasonable to expect, among African traders, or the in 
habitants of our islands, a degree of perfection in morals which was not to be 
found in Great Britain itself. Would any man estimate the character of the 
English nation by what was to be read in the records of the Old Bailey ? He 
himself, however, had lived sixteen years in the West Indies, and he could 
bear testimony to the general good usage of the slaves. 

Before the agitation of this impolitic question, the slaves were contented 
with their situation. There was a mutual confidence between them and their 
masters : and this continued to be the case till the new doctrines were broached. 
But now depots of arms were necessary on every estate, and the scene was 
totally reversed. Nor was their religious then inferior to their civil state. 
When the English took possession of Grenada, where his property lay, they 
found them baptized and instructed in the principles of the Roman Catholic 
faith. The priests of that persuasion had indeed been indefatigable in their 
vocation ; so that imported Africans generally obtained within twelve months 
a tolerable idea of their religious duties. He had seen the slaves there go 
through the public mass in a manner, and with a fervency, which would have 
done credit to more civilized societies. But the case was now altered ; for, 
except where the Moravians had been, there was no trace in our islands of an 
attention to their religious interests. 

It had been said that their punishments were severe. There might be in 
stances of cruelty, but these were not general. Many of them were undoubt 
edly ill disposed ; though not more, according to their number on a planta 
tion, than in a regiment, or in a ship's crew. Had we never heard of seamen 
being flogged from ship to ship, or of soldiers dying in the very act of punish 
ment ? Had we not also heard, even in this country of boasted liberty, of 
seamen being seized, and carried away, when returning from distant voyages, 
after an absence of many years ; and this without even being allowed to see 
their wives and families ? As to distressed objects, he maintained that there 
was more wretchedness and poverty in St. Giles than in all the West Indian 
slands belonging to Great Britain. 

He would now speak of the African and West Indian trades. The imports 
and exports of these amounted to upwards of ten millions annually ; and they 
gave employment to three hundred thousand tons of shipping, and to about 
twenty-five thousand seamen. These trades had been sanctioned by our ances 
tors in parliament. The acts for this purpose might be classed under three 
heads. First, they were such as declared the colonies and the trade thereof 


advantageous to Great Britain, and therefore entitled to her protection. Sec 
ondly, such as authorized, protected and encouraged the trade of Africa, as 
advantageous in itself, and necessary to the welfare and existence of the sugar 
colonies ; and, thirdly, such as promoted and secured loans of money to the 
proprietors of the said colonies, either from British subjects or from foreign 
ers. These acts, he apprehended, ought to satisfy every person of the legality 
and usefulness of these trades. They were enacted in reigns distinguished for 
the production of great and enlightened characters. We heard then of no 
wild and destructive doctrines like the present. These were reserved for this 
age of novelty and innovation. But he must remind the house that the in 
habitants of our islands had as good a right to the protection of their property 
as the inhabitants of Great Britain. Nor could it be diminished in any shape 
without full compensation. The proprietors of lands in the ceded islands, 
which were purchased of government under specific conditions of settlement, 
ought to be indemnified. They, also, (of whom he was one,) who had pur 
chased the territory granted by the crown to General Monkton in the island of 
St. Vincent, ought to be indemnified also. The sale ~>f this had gone on 
briskly, till it was known that a plan was in agitation for the abolition of the 
slave-trade. Since that period the original purchasers had done little or noth 
ing, and they had many hundred acres on hand which would be of no value if 
the present question was carried. In fact, they had a right to compensation. 
The planters generally spent their estates in this country. They generally 
educated their children in it. They had never been found seditious or rebel 
lious ; and they demanded of the parliament of Great Britain that protection 
which, upon the principles of good faith, it was in duty bound to afford them 
in common with the rest of his majesty's loyal subjects. 

Mr. Henry Thornton remarked, that the manner of procuring slaves in Af 
rica was the great evil to be remedied. Africa was to be stripped of its 
inhabitants to supply a population for the West Indies. There was a Dutch 
proverb which said, "My son, get money, honestly if you can; but get 
money;" or, in other words, "Get slaves, honestly if you can; but get slaves." 
This was the real grievance ; and the two honorable gentlemen, by confining 
their observations to the West Indies, had entirely overlooked it. 

Though this evil had been fully proved, he could not avoid stating to the 
house some new facts, which had come to his knowledge as a director of the 
Sierra Leone company, and which would still further establish it. The con 
sideration that they had taken place since -the discussion of the last year on 
this subject, obliged him to relate them. 

Mr. Falconbridge, agent to the company, sitting one evening in Sierra Leone, 
heard a shout, and immediately afterwards the report of a gun. Fearing an 
attack, he armed forty of the settlers, and rushed with them to the place from 
whence the noise came. He found a poor wretch, who had been crossing from 
a neighboring village, in the possession of a party of kidnappers, who were 
tying his hands. Mr. Falconbridge, however, dared not rescue him, lest, in 
the defenseless state of his own town, retaliation might be made upon him. 


At another time a young woman, living half a mile off, was sold, without 
any criminal charge, to one of the slave-ships. She was well acquainted with 
the agent's wife, and had been with her only the day before. , Her cries were 
heard, but it was impossible to relieve her. 

At another time a young lad, one of the free settlers who went from Eng 
land, was caught by a neighboring chief, as he was straggling alone from 
home, and sold for a slave. The pretext was, that some one in the town of 
Sierra Leone had committed an offense. Hence, the first person belonging to 
it, who could be seized, was to be punished. Happily, the free settlers saw 
him in his chains, and they recovered him before he was conveyed to the ship. 

To mark still more forcibly the scenes of misery to which the slave-trade 
gave birth, he would mention a case stated to him in a letter by king Naimbanna. 
It had happened to this respectable person, in no less than three instances, to 
have some branches of his family kidnapped, and carried off to the West Indies. 
At one time three young men, Corpro, Banna, and Marbrour, were decoyed on 
board a Danish slave-ship, under pretense of buying something, and were taken 
away. At another time another relation piloted a vessel down the river He 
begged to be put on shore, when he came opposite to his own town, but he 
was pressed to pilot her to the river's mouth. The captain then pleaded the 
impracticability of putting him on shore, carried him to Jamaica, and sold 
him for a slave. Fortunately, however, by means of a letter which was con 
veyed there, the man, by the assistance of the governor, was sent back to Sierra 
Leone. At another time another relation was also kidnapped. But he had 
not the good fortune, like the former, to return. 

He would mention one other instance. A son had sold his own father, for 
whom he obtained a considerable price ; for, as the father was rich in domestic 
slaves, it was not doubted that he would offer largely for his ransom. The old 
man accordingly gave twenty-two of these in exchange for himself. The rest, 
however, being from that time filled with apprehensions of being, on some 
ground or other, sold to the slave-ships, fled to the mountains of Sierra Leone, 
where they now dragged on a miserable existence. The son himself was sold, 
in his turn, soon after. In short, the whole of that unhappy peninsula, as he 
learned from eye witnesses, had been desolated by the trade in slaves. Towns 
were seen standing without inhabitants all over the coast ; in several of which 
the agent of the company had been. There was nothing but distrust among 
the inhabitants. Every one, if he stirred from home, felt himself obliged to 
be armed. 

Such was the nature of the slave-trade. It had unfortunately obtained the 
name of a trade, and many had been deceived by the appellation. But it was 
war and not trade. It was a mass of crimes, and not commerce. It was that 
which prevented the introduction of a trade in Africa ; for it was only by 
clearing and cultivating the lands, that the climate could be made healthy for 
settlements ; but this wicked traffic, by dispersing the inhabitants, and causing 
the lands to remain uncultivated, made the coast unhealthy to Europeans. He 
had found, in attempting to establish a colony there, that it was an obstacle 


which opposed itself to him in innumerable ways ; it created more embarrass 
ments than all the natural impediments of the country ; and it was more hard 
to contend with, than any difficulties of climate, soil, or natural disposition of 
the people. 

Colonel Tarleton repeated his arguments of the last year. In addition to 
ihe<e, he inveighed bitterly against the abolitionists, as a junto of sectaries, 
sophists, enthusiasts, and fanatics. He condemned the abolition as useless, 
unless other nations would take it up. He brought to the recollection of the 
house the barbarous scenes which had taken place in St. Domingo, all of which, 
he said, had originated in the discussion of this question. He described the 
alarms in which the inhabitants of the islands were kept, lest similar scenes 
should occur from the same cause. He ridiculed the petitions on the table. 
Itinerant clergymen, mendicant physicians, and others had extorted signatures 
from the sick, the indigent and the traveler. School-boys were invited to sign 
them, under the promise of a holiday. He had letters to produce which would 
prove all these things, though he was not authorized to give up the names of 
those who had written them. 

Mr. Whitbread said, that even if he could conceive that the trade was, as 
some had asserted it to be, founded on principles of humanity; that the Africans 
were rescued from death in their own country ; that, upon being carried to the 
West Indies, they were put under kind masters ; that their labor there was 
easy ; that at evening they returned cheerful to their homes ; that ia sickness 
tht?y were attended with care ; and that their old age was rendered comfortable ; 
even then he would vote for the abolition of the slave-trade, inasmuch as he 
was convinced that that which was fundamentally wrong, no practice could 

No eloquence could persuade him that the Africans were torn from their 
country and their dearest connexions, merely that they might live a happier 
life ; or that they could be placed under the uncontrolled dominion of others 
without suffering. Arbitrary power would spoil the hearts of the best. Hence 
would arise tyranny on the one side, and a sense of injury on the other. Hence 
the passions would be let loose, and a state of perpetual enmity would follow. 

He needed only to go to the accounts of those who defended the system of 
slavery, to show that it was cruel. He was forcibly struck last year by an ex 
pression of an honorable member, an advocate for the trade, who, when he 
came to speak of the slaves, on selling off the stock of a plantation, said that 
they brought less than the common price, because they were damaged. Dam- 
aged 1 What ! were they goods and chattels ? What an idea was this to hold 
out of our fellow-creatures ! We might imagine how slaves were treated, if 
they could be spoken of in such a manner. Perhaps these unhappy people had 
lingered out the best part of their lives in the service of their master. Able 
tl 1.011 to do but little, they were sold for little ; and the remaining substance of 
their sinews was to be pressed out by another, yet more hardened than the for 
mer, who had made a calculation of their vitals accordingly. 

Mr. Dundas declared that he had always been a warm friend to the abolition 

SPEECH 0? MR. FOX. 231 

of llie slave-trade, though he differed with Mr. Wilberforce as to the mode of 
effecting it. 

The abolitionists, and those on the opposite side of the question, had, both 
of them, gone into extremes. The former were for the immediate and ab 
rupt annihilation of the trade. The latter considered it as essentially neces 
sary to the existence of the West Indian islands, and therefore laid it down that 
it was to be continued forever. Such was the vast distance between the parties. 

He would say that he agreed with his honorable friend, Mr. Wilberforce, in 
very material points He believed the trade was not founded in policy ; that 
the continuation of it was not essential to the preservation of our trade with 
the West Indian islands ; and that the slaves were not only to be maintained, 
but increased there by natural population. He agreed, too, as to the propriety 
of the abolition. But when his honorable friend talked of direct and abrupt 
abolition, he would submit it to him, whether he did not run counter to the 
prejudices of those who were most deeply interested in the question ; and 
whether, if he could obtain his object without wounding these, it would not be 
oetter to do it ? Did he not also forget the sacred attention which parliament 
had ever shown to the private interests and patrimonial rights of individuals ? 

Mr. Addington (the speaker) professed himself to be one of those moderate 
persons alluded to by Mr. Dundas. He wished to see some middle measure 
suggested. The fear of doing injury to the property of others had hitherto 
prevented him from giving an opinion against the system, the continuance of 
which he could not countenance. " " 

Mr. Fox said that after what had fallen from the two last speakers, he 
could remain no longer silent. Something so mischievous had come out, and 
something so like a foundation had been laid for preserving, not only for years 
to come, but forever, this detestable traffic, that he should feel himself wanting 
in his duty, if he were not to deprecate all such deceptions and delusions upon 
the country. 

The honorable gentlemen had called themselves moderate men ; but upon 
this subject he neither felt, nor desired to feel, anything like a sentiment of 
moderation. Their speeches had reminded him of a passage in Middleton's 
Life of Cicero. The translation of it was defective, though it would equally 
suit his purpose. He says : "To enter into a man's house and kill him, his 
wife and family, in the night, is certainly a most heinous crime, and deserving 
of death ; but to break open his house, to murder him, his wife, and all his 
children, in the night, may be still right, provided it be done with moderation." 
Now, was there any thing more absurd in this passage, than to say that the 
slave-trade might be carried on with moderation ; for, if you could not rob or 
murder a single man with moderation, with what moderation could you pillage 
and wound a whole nation ? In fact, the question of the abolition was simply 
a question of justice. It was only whether we should authorize by law, re 
specting Africa, the commission of crimes for which, in this country, we should 
forfeit our lives ; notwithstanding which, it was to be treated, in the opinion of 
these honorable gentlemen, with moderation. 


Upon the whole, he would give his opinion of this traffic in a few words. 
He believed it to be impolitic, hs knew it to be inhuman ; he was certian it 
was unjust ; he thought it so inhuman and unjust that if the colonies could not 
be cultivated without it, they ought not to be cultivated at all. It would be 
much better for us to be without them, than not to abolish the slave-trade. He 
hoped therefore that the members would this night act the part which would 
do them honor. He declared, that whether he should vote in a large minority 
or a small one, he would never give up the cause. Whether in the house of 
parliament or out of it, in whatever situation he might ever be, as long as he 
had a voice to speak, this question should never be at rest. Believing the 
trade to be of the nature of crimes and pollutions, which stained the honor of 
the country, he would never relax his efforts. It was his duty to prevent man 
from preying upon man ; and if he and his friends should die before they had 
attained their glorious object, he hoped there would never be wanting men 
alive to their duty, who would continue to labor till the evil should be wholly 
done away. If the situation of the Africans was as happy as servitude could 
make them, he could not consent to the enormous crime of selling man to man, 
nor permit a practice to continue, which put an entire bar to the civili 
zation of one quarter of the globe. He was sure that the nation would not 
much longer allow the continuance of enormities which shocked human nature. 
The West Indies had no right to demand that crimes should be permitted by 
this country for their advantage ; and if they were wise, they would lend their 
cordial assistance to such measures as would bring about in the shortest pos 
sible time the abolition of this execrable trade. 

Mr. Jenkinson admitted that the slave-trade was an evil. He admitted also 
that the state of slavery was an evil ; if the question was, not whether we 
should abolish, but whether we should establish these, he would be the first to 
oppose himself to their existence ; but there were many evils which we should 
have thought it our duty to prevent, yet which, when they had once arisen, it 
was more dangerous to oppose than to submit to. The duty of a statesman 
was, not to consider abstractedly what was right or wrong, but to weigh the 
consequences which were likely to result from the abolition of an evil, against 
those which were likely to result from its continuance. Agreeing then most 
perfectly with the abolitionists in their end, he differed from them only in the 
means of accomplishing it. He was desirous of doing that gradually, which 
he conceived they were doing rashly. He had therefore drawn up two 
propositions. The first was, that an address be presented to his majesty, 
that he would recommend to the colonial assemblies to grant premiums to 
such planters and overseers as should distinguish themselves by promoting 
the annual increase of the slaves by birth ; and likewise freedom to every 
female slave, who had reared five children to the age of seven years. The 
second was, that a bounty of five pounds per head be given to the master 
of every slave-ship, who should import in any cargo a greater number of le- 
males than males, not exceeding the age of twenty-five years. To bring for- 


ward these propositions, he would now move that the chairman leave the 

Mr. Pitt rejoiced that the debate had taken a turn which contracted the 
question into such narrow limits. The matter then in dispute was merely as 
to the time at which the abolition should take place. He therefore congratu 
lated the house, the country, and the world, that this great point had been 
gained ; that we might now consider this trade as having received its condem 
nation ; that this curse of mankind was seen in its true light ; and that the 
greatest stigma on our national character, which ever yet existed, was about to 
be removed ! Mankind, he trusted, were now likely to be delivered from the 
greatest practical evil that ever- afflicted the human race ; from the most 
severe and extensive calamity recorded in the history of the world. 

Mr. Pitt proceeded to remark upon the civilization of Africa ; as his eye 
had just glanced upon a West Indian law, in the evidence upon the table, he 
said he would begin with an argument, which the sight of it had suggested to 
him. This argument had been ably answered in the course of the evening ; 
but he would view it in yet another light. It had heen said that the savage 
disposition of the Africans rendered the prospect of their civilization almost 
hopeless. This argument was indeed of long standing ; but last year it had 
been supported upon a new ground. Captain Frazer had stated in his evi 
dence that a boy had been put to death at Cabenda, because there were those 
who refused to purchase him as a slave. This single story was deemed by him, 
and had been considered by others, as a sufficient proof of the barbarity of 
the Africans, and of the inutility of abolishing the slave-trade. But they, 
who had used this fact, had suppressed several circumstances relating to it. It 
appeared, on questioning Captain Frazer afterwards, that this boy had pre 
viously run away from his master three several times ; that the master had to 
pay his value, according to the custom of the country, every time he was 
brought back ; and that partly from anger at the boy for running away so 
frequently, and partly to prevent a repetition of the same expense, he deter 
mined to destory him. Such was the explanation of the signal instance which 
was to fix barbarity on all Africa, as it came out in the cross-examination of 
Captain Frazer. That this African master was unenlightened and barbarous, 
he freely admitted ; but what would an enlightened and civilized West Indian 
have done in a similar case ? He would quote the law, passed in the West 
Indies in 1722, which he had just cast his eye upon in the book of evidence, 
by which law this very same crime of running away, was by the legislature of 
an island, by the grave and deliberate sentence of an enlightened legisla 
ture, punished with death ; and this, not in the case only of the third offense, but 
even in the very first instance. It was enacted, " That if any negro or other 
slave should withdraw himself from his master for the term of six mouths, or 
any slave, who was absent, should not return within that time, every such per 
son should suffer death." There was also another West Indian law, by which 
every negro was armed against his fellow-negro, for he was authorized to kill 
every runaway slave ; and he had even a reward held out to him for so doing 


Let the house now contrast the two cases. Let them ask themselves which of 
the two exhibited the greatest barbarity ; and whether they could possibly vote 
for the continuance of the slave-trade, upon the principle that the Africans 
had shown themselves to be a race of incorrigible barbarians ! 

Something like an opposite argument, but with a like view, had been main 
tained by others on this subject. It had been said, in justification of the trade, 
that the Africans had derived some little civilization from their intercourse 
with us. Yes, we had given them just enough of the forms of justice to enable 
them to add the pretext of legal trials to their other modes of perpetrating 
the most atrocious crimes. We had given them just enough of European im 
provements to enable them the more effectually to turn Africa into a ravaged 
wilderness. Alas ! alas ! we had carried on a trade with them from this civil 
ized and enlightened country, which, instead of diffusing knowledge, had been 
a check to every laudable pursuit. We had carried a poison into their coun 
try which spread its contagious effects from one end of it to the other, and 
which penetrated to its very centre, corrupting every part to which it reached. 
We had there subverted the whole order of nature ; we had aggravated every 
natural barbarity, and furnished to every man motives for committing, under 
the name of trade, acts of perpetual hostility and perfidy against his neighbor. 
Thus had the perversion of British commerce carried misery instead of happi 
ness to one whole quarter of the globe. False to the very principles of trade, 
misguided in our policy, unmindful of our duty, what almost irreparable mis 
chief had we done to that continent ! How shall we hope to obtain forgiveness 
from heaven if we refused to use those means which the mercy of Providence 
had still reserved to us for wiping away the guilt and shame with which we 
were now covered ? If we refused even this degree of compensation, how ag 
gravated would be our guilt 1 Should we delay, then, to repair these incalcu 
lable injuries ? We ought to count the days, nay, the very hours which 
intervened to delay the accomplishment of such a work. 

On this great subject, the civilization of Africa, which, he confessed, was 
near his heart, he would yet add a few observations. And first he would say, 
that the present deplorable state of the country, especially when he reflected 
that her chief calamities were to be ascribed to us, called for a generous aid, 
rather than justified any despair, on our part, of her recovery, and still less a 
repetition of our injuries. On what ground of theory or history did we act, 
when we supposed that she was never to be reclaimed ? There was a time, 
which it now might be fit to call to remembrance, when human sacrifices, and 
even this very practice of the slave-trade, existed in our own island. Slaves, as 
we may read in Henry's history of Great Britain, were formerly an established 
nrticle of our exports. " Great numbers," he says, " were exported, like cattle, 
from the British coast, and were to be seen exposed for sale in the Roman 
market." "Adultery, witchcraft, and debt," says the same historian, "were 
probably some of the chief sources of supplying the Roman market with Brit 
ish slaves ; prisoners taken in war were added to the number ; there might be- 
also among them some unfortunate gamesters, who, after having lost all their 


goods, at length staked themselves, their wives, and their children." Now 
every one of these sources of slavery had been stated to be at this hour a 
.source of slavery in Africa. If these practices, therefore, were to be admitted 
as proofs of the natural incapacity of its inhabitants, why might they not have 
been applied to ancient Britain ? Why might not then some Roman senator, 
pointing to British barbarians, have predicted with equal boldness, that these 
were a people who were destined never to be free ; who were without the un 
derstanding necessary for the attainment of useful arts ; depressed by the hand 
of nature below the level of the human species, and created to form a supply 
of slaves for the rest of the world ? But happily, since that time, notwith 
standing what would then have been the justness of these predictions, we had 
emerged from barbarism. We were now raised to a situation which exhibited 
a striking contrast to every circumstance by which a Roman might have char 
acterized us, and by which we now characterized Africa. There was, indeed, 
one thing wanting to complete the contrast, and to clear us altogether from the 
h'.vr.itation of acting even to this hour as barbarians ; for we continued to this 
hour a barbarous traffic in slaves. We continued it even yet, in spite of all 
our great pretensions. We were once as obscure among the nations of the 
("irth, as savage in our manners, as debased in our morals, as degraded in our 
understandings as these unhappy Africans. But in the lapse of a long series 
of years, by a progression slow, and for a time almost imperceptible, we had 
become rich in a variety of acquirements. We were favored above measure in 
1)10 gifts of Providence, we were unrivaled in commerce, preeminent in arts, 
foremost in the pursuits of philosophy and science, and established in all the 
blessings of civil society ; we were in the possession of peace, of liberty, and 
of happiness ; we were under the guidance of a mild and a beneficent religion ; 
rmd we were protected by impartial laws, and the purest administration of jus 
tice ; we were living under a system of government, which our own happy 
experience led us to pronounce the best and wisest, and which had become the 
admiration of the world. From all these blessings we must forever have been 
excluded had there been any truth in those principles which some had not hes 
itated to lay down as applicable to the case of Africa ; and we should have 
been, at this moment, little superior, either in morals, knowledge, or refinement, 
to the rude inhabitants of that continent. 

If, then, we felt that this perpetual confinement in the fetters of brutal ig 
norance would have been the greatest calamity which could have befallen us ; 
if we viewed with gratitude the contrast between our present and our former 
situation ; if we shuddered to think of the misery which would still have over 
whelmed us, had our country continued to the present times, through some 
cruel policy, to be the mart for slaves to the more civilized nations of the world ; 
God forbid that we should any longer subject Africa to the same dreadful 
scourge, and exclude that light of knowledge from her coasts which had reach 
ed every other quarter of the globe ! 

He trusted we should no longer continue this commerce ; and that we should 
no longer consider ourselves as conferring too great a boon on the natives of 


Africa, in restoring them to the rank of human beings. He trusted we should 
not think ourselves too liberal, if, by abolishing the slave-trade, we gave them 
the same common chance of civilization with other parts of the world. If we 
listened to the voice of reason and duty this night, some of us might live to see 
a reverse of that picture, from which we now turn our eyes with shame. We 
might live to behold the natives engaged in the calm occupations of industry. 
and in the pursuit of a just commerce. We might behold the beams of science 
and philosophy breaking in upon their land, which at some happy period in 
some later times might blaze with full lustra? and joining their influence to that 
of pure religion, might illuminate and invigorate the most distant extremities of 
that immense continent. Then might we hope that even Africa, though last 
of all the quarters of the globe, should enjoy at length, in the evening of her 
days, those blessings which had descended so plentifully upon us in a much ear 
lier period of the world. Then also would Europe, participating in her 
improvement and prosperity, receive an ample recompense for the tardy kind 
ness (if kindness it could be called) of no longer hindering her from extricat 
ing herself out of the darkness, which, in other more fortunate regions, had 
been so much more speedily dispelled. 

It was in this view, it was as an atonement for our long and cruel injustice 
towards Africa that the measure proposed by his honorable friend, Mr. Wilber- 
force, most forcibly recommended itself to his mind. The great and happy 
change to be expected in the state of her inhabitants was, of all the various 
benefits of the abolition, in his estimation the most extensive and important. 
He should vote against the adjournment, and he should also oppose every 
proposition which tended to prevent or even to postpone for an hour the total 
abolition of the slave-trade. 

Two divisions took place. In the first there were 193 votes for gradual 
abolition, and 125 for immediate; and in the second there were 230 for grad 
ual, and 85 for no abolition at all. On the 25th of April, Mr. Dundas brought 
forward a plan conformable with the resolutions of the house above mentioned. 
He considered that eight years ought to be allowed the planters to stock them 
selves with negroes, and therefore moved that the year 1800 should be the 
epoch, after which no more slaves should be imported from Africa in British 
vessels to the West Indies. Sir Edward Knatchbull proposed the year 1796, 
which motion was carried by 151 to 132. 

After the debate, the committee for the abolition of the slave-trade held a 
meeting and voted their thanks to Mr. Wllberforce for his motion, and to Mr. 
Pitt, Mr. Fox, and those other members of the house who had so eloquently 
supported it. They resolved, also, that a gradual abolition of the slave-trade 
was not an adequate remedy for its injustice and cruelty ; neither could it be 
deemed a compliance with the general wishes of the people, as expressed in 
their numerous and urgent petitions to parliament ; and they resolved, lastly, 
to use all constitutional means to obtain its immediate abolition. 




Action of tlie House of Lords in 1792. Clarksun retires from the field from ill health, 
in 1794. Mr. Wilberforce's annual motion. Session of 1799. Speech of Canning. 
Sessions of 1804 and 1805. Clarksou resumes his labors. Death of Mr. Pitt, January, 
1806. Administration of Grenville and Fox. Session of 1806. Debate in the House 
of Lords. Speeches of Lord Grrenville, Erskine, Dr. Porteus, Earls Stanhope and Spen - 
cer, Lords Holland and Ellenborough. Death of Fox, October, 1806. Contest and 
triumph in 1807. Final passage of the Bill for the Abolition of the African Slave 
Trade. Slave trade declared felony in 1811, and declared piracy in 1824, by England. 
England abolishes slavery in her colonies, 1833. Prohibition of Slave Trade by Eu 
ropean governments. Slavery abolished in Mexico, 1829 In Guatemala and Colombia. 


HE gradual abolition having been thus agreed upon for 1796, by the house 
of commons, a committee earned the resolution to the house of lords. On 
the 8th of May, 1792, the lords met to consider it, when a motion was made 
by Lord Stormont, on the part of the planters, merchants, and other interested 
persons, to hear new evidence. On the 5th of June, when only seven witnesses 
had been examined, all further proceedings were postponed to the next session. 

Nothing could be more distressing to the friends of the measure than this 
determination of the lords ; first, because there was no knowing how many 
years they might prolong the hearing of evidence ; and secondly, it involved 
the necessity of finding out and keeping up a respectable body of witnesses on 
the side of the opponents of the trade. Mr. Clarkson, therefore, set out again 
in the month of July on his old errand, and returned in February, 1793. The 
house of commons was then sitting. The only step to be taken was to bring 
forward its own vote of the former year, by which the slave-trade was to be 
abolished in 1796, in order that this vote might be reconsidered and renew 
ed. This motion, made by Mr. Wilberforce, was furiously opposed, and lost 
by a majority of 61 to 53. By this determination the commons actually re 
fused to sanction their own vote. In the house of lords, but seven witnesses 
were examined during this session. 

Mr. Clarkson once more traversed the kingdom in search of witnesses. He 
returned in February, 1794, but in such a wretched state of health as to be 
unable to lend any farther assistance to the committee. The incessant labor of 
body and mind for so many years, aggravated by anxiety and disappointments, 
had made a serious inroad upon his constitution. His nervous system had been 
shattered, his hearing, voice, and memory were nearly gone. He was there 
fore obliged, very reluctantly, to be borne out of the field, where he had placed 
the great honor and glory of his life. Mr. Clarkson says : " These disorders 
had been brought on by degrees in consequence of 'the severe labors necessa 
rily attached to the promotion of the cause. For seven years I had a corres 
pondence to maintain with four hundred persons with my own ^and. I had 
some book or other annually to write in behalf of the cause. In this time I 
had traveled more than thirty-five thousand miles in search of eviden^ e, and a 


great part of these journeys in the night. All this time my mind had been on 
the stretch. It had been bent, too, to this one subject ; for I had not even leis 
ure to attend to ray own concerns. The various instances of barbarity which 
had come successively to my knowledge, within this period, had vexed, harassed, 
and afflicted it. The wound which these had produced was rendered still deeper 
by those cruel disappointments before related, which arose from the reiterated 
refusal of persons to give their testimony, after I had traveled hundreds of 
miles in quest of them. But the severest stroke was that inflicted by the per 
secution begun and pursued by persons interested in the continuance of the 
trade, of such witnesses as had been examined against them ; and whom, on 
account of their dependent situations in life, it was most easy to oppress. As 
I had been the means of bringing these forward on these occasions, they natu 
rally came to me, when thus persecuted, as the author of their miseries and 
their ruin. From their supplications and wants it would have been ungener 
ous and ungrateful to have fled. The late Mr. Whitbread, to whom one day 
in deep affliction on this account I related accidentally a circumstance of this 
kind, generously undertook, in order to make my mind easy upon the subject, 
to make good all injuries which should in future arise to individuals from such 
persecution ; and he repaired these, at different times, at a considerable ex 
pense. I feel it a duty to divulge this circumstance, out of respect to the 
memory of one of the best of men, and of one whom, if the history of his life 
were written, it would appear to have been an extraordinary honor to the coun 
try to have produced." 

In the session of 1195, Mr. Wilberforce moved for leave to bring in a bill 
for the abolition of the slave-trade. The motion was lost by a small majority. 
In 1796, Mr. Wilberforce resolved to try the question in a new shape. He 
moved that the trade be abolished in a limited time, but without assigning to 
its duration any specific date. He wished the house to agree to this as a gen 
eral principle. After much opposition, the principle was acknowledged ; but 
when, in consequence of this acknowledgment of it, he brought in a bill and 
attempted to introduce into one of its clauses, the year 1797, as the period 
when the trade should cease, he lost it by a majority of 74 to 70. He allowed 
the next session to pass without any parliamentary notice of the subject, but in 
1798 he renewed his motion for a limited time, which was lost. 

In the year 1799, undismayed by these different disappointments, he again 
renewed his motion. Colonel M. Wood, Mr. Petrie, and others, among- whom 
were Mr. Windham and Mr. Dundas, opposed it. Messrs. Pitt, Fox, W. 
Smith, Sir William Dolben, Sir R. Milbank, Mr. Hobhouse, and Mr. Canning, 
supported it. Sir R. Milbank contended that modifications of a system fun 
damentally wrong ought not to be tolerated by the legislature of a free nation. 
Mr. Hobhouse said that nothing could be so nefarious as this ".raflic in blood. 
It was unjust in its principle. It was cruel in its practice. It admitted of no 
regulation whatever. The abolition of it was called for equally by morality 
and sound policy. 

Mr. Canning exposed the folly of Mr. Dundas, who had said that as parlis 


ment had in the year 1787 left the abolition to the colonial assemblies, it ought 
not to be taken out of their hands. This great event, he observed, could only 
be accomplished in two ways ; either by these assemblies, or by the parliament 
of England. Now the members of the assembly of Jamaica had professed 
that they would never abolish the trade. Was it not therefore idle to rely up 
on them for the accomplishment of it ? He then took a very comprehensive 
view of the arguments which had been offered in the course of the debate, and 
was severe upon the planters in the house, who, he said, had brought into fa 
miliar use certain expressions with no other view than to throw a veil over 
their odious system. Among these was their right to import laborers. But 
never was the word " laborers " so prostituted as when it was used for slaves. 
Never was the word "right" so prostituted, not even when The Rights of 
Man were talked of, as when the right to trade in man's blood was asserted by 
the members of an enlightened assembly. Never was the right of importing 
these laborers worse defended than when the antiquity of the slave-trade, and 
its foundation on ancient acts of parliament, were brought forward in its sup 
port. We had been cautioned not to lay our unhallowed hands on the ancient 
institution of the slave-trade; nor to subvert a fabric raised by the wisdom of 
our ancestors, and consecrated by a lapse of ages. But on what principles did 
we usually respect the institutions of antiquity ? We respected them when 
we saw some shadow of departed worth and usefulness, or some memorial of 
what had besn creditable to mankind. But was this the case with the slave- 
trade ? Had it begun in principles of justice or national honor, which the 
changes of the world alone had impaired? Had it to plead former services 
md glories in behalf of its present disgrace ? In looking at it we saw noth 
ing but crinios and sufferings from the beginning ; nothing but what wounded 
and convulsed our feelings ; nothing but what excited indignation and horror. 
It had not even to plead what could often be said in favor of the most unjus 
tifiable wars. Though conquest had sometimes originated in ambition, and in 
the worst of motives, yet the conquerors and the conquered were sometimes 
blended afterwards into one people ; so that a system of common interest arose 
out of former differences. But where was the analogy of the cases ? Was it 
only at the outset that we could trace violence and injustice on the part of the 
slave-trade ? Were the oppressors and the oppressed so reconciled that enmi 
ties ultimately ceased ? No. Was it reasonable, then, to urge a prescriptive 
right, not to the fruits of an ancient and forgotten evil, but to a series of new 
violences ; to a chain of fresh enormities ; to cruelties continually repeated ; 
and of which every instance inflicted a fresh calamity, and constituted a sepa 
rate and substantial crime ? 

The debate being over, the house divided ; when it appeared that there were 
for Mr. Wilberforce's motion seventy-four, but against it eighty -two. 

The question had row been tried and lost in almost every possible shape, 
I at Mr. Wilberforce t, 1 the committee resolved to hold themselves in readi- 
n *s to seize the first fa. "able opportunity which should present itself of fur- 
tht ing the cause. Fcur -ars passed over vnthout action, out tLe yea.? 180-4 


was fixed upon for renewed exertion. Among the reasons for fixing upon this 
year, one may be assigned, namely, that the Irish members, in consequence of 
the union which had taken place between the two countries, had then all taken 
their seats in the house of commons ; and that most of them were friendly to 
the cause. 

This being the situation of things, Mr. Wilberforce, on the 30th of March, 
asked leave to renew his bill for the abolition of the slave-trade within a lim 
ited time. Mr. Fuller opposed it. A debate ensued. 

An amendment having been proposed by Mr. Manning, a division took place 
upon it, when leave was given to bring in the bill, by a majority of one hun 
dred and twenty-four to forty-nine. 

On the 7th of June, the second reading of the bill was moved. Upon a di 
vision, there appeared for the second reading one hundred, and against it 

On the 27th of June, the bill, though opposed in its last stage, was carried 
by a majority of sixty-nine to thirty-six. It was then taken up to the lords ; 
but on a motion of Lord Hawkesbury, then a member of that house, the discus 
sion of it was postponed to the next year. 

The session being ended, the committee for the abolition of the slave-trade 
increased its numb'er by the election of the Right Honorable Lord Teignmouth, 
Dr. Dickson, and Wilson Birkbeck, as members. 

In the year 1805, Mr. Wilberforce renewed his motion of the former year. 
Colonel Tarleton, Sir William Yonge, Mr. Fuller, and Mr. Gascoyne opposed 
it. Leave was given to introduce his bill. 

On the second reading of it a serious opposition took place ; and an amend 
ment was moved for postponing it till that day six months. The amendment 
was opposed by Mr. Fox and Mr. Huddlestone. The latter could not help 
lifting his voice against this monstrous traffic in the sinews and blood of man, 
the toleration of which had so long been the disgrace of the British legislature. 
He did not charge the enormous guilt resulting from it upon the nation at 
large ; for the nation had washed its hands of it by the numerous petitions it 
had sent against it ; arid it had since been a matter of astonishment to all Chris 
tendom how the constitutional guardians of British freedom should have sanc 
tioned elsewhere the greatest system of cruelty and oppression in the world. 

He said that a curse attended this trade even in the mode of defending it. 
By a certain fatality, none but the vilest arguments were brought forward, which 
corrupted the very persons who used them. Every one of these were built on 
the narrow ground of interest.; of pecuniary profit ; of sordid gain ; in oppo 
sition to every higher consideration ; to every motive that had reference to hu 
manity, justice, and religion ; or to that great principle which comprehended 
them all. Place only before the most determined advocate of this odious traf 
fic the exact image of himself in the garb and harness of a slave, dragged and 
whipped about like a beast ; place this image also before him, and paint it aa 
that of one without a ray of hope to cheer him ; and you would extort from 
him the reluctant confession that he would not endure for an hour the misery 


to which he condemned his fellow-man for life. How dared he, then, to use 
this selfish plea of interest against the voice of the generous sympathies of his 
nature ? But even upon this narrow ground the advocates for the traffic had 
been defeated. If the unhallowed argument of expediency was worth any 
thing when opposed to moral rectitude, or if it were to supercede the precepts 
of Christianity, where was a man to stop, or what line was he to draw ? For 
any thing he knew, it might be physically true that human blood was the best 
manure for the land ; but who ought to shed it on that account ? True expe 
diency, however, was, where it ever would be found, on the side of that system 
which was most merciful and just. He asked how it happened that sugar 
could be imported cheaper from the East Indies than from the West, notwith 
standing the vast difference of the length of the voyages, but on account of the 
impolicy of slavery, or that it was made in the former case by the industry of 
free men, and in the latter by the languid drudgery of slaves. 

As he had had occasion to advert to the eastern part of the world, he would 
make an observation upon an argument which had been collected from that 
quarter. The condition of the negroes in the West Indies had been lately 
compared with that of the Hindoos. But he would observe that the Hindoo, 
miserable as his hovel was, had sources of pride and happiness to which not 
only the West Indian slave, but even his master was a stranger. He was, to 
be sure, a peasant, and his industry was subservient to the gratifications of an 
European lord. But he was, in his own belief, vastly superior to him. He 
viewed him as one of the lowest cast. He would not, on any consideration, 
eat from the same plate. He would not suffer his son to marry the daughter 
of his master, even if she could bring him all the West Indies as her portion. 
He would observe, too, that the Hindoo peasant drank his water from his 
native well ; that if his meal were scanty, he received it from the hand of her 
who was most dear to him ; that when he labored, he labored for her and his 
offspring. His daily task being finished, he reposed with his family. No re 
trospect of the happiness of former days, compared with existing misery, dis 
turbed his slumber ; nor horrid dreams occasioned him to wake in agony at 
the dawn of day. No barbarous sounds of cracking whips reminded him that, 
with the form and image of a man, his destiny was that of the beast of the 
field. Let the advocates for the bloody traffic state what they had to set off 
on their side of the question against the comforts and independence of the man 
with whom they compared the slave. 

The amendment was supported by Sir William Yonge, Sir William Pulteny, 
Colonel Tarleton, Mr. Gascoyne, C. Brook, and Hiley Addington. On divid 
ing the house upon it, there appeared for it seventy-seven, but against it only 

This defeat occasioned the severest disappointment. The committee in 
stantly met, when sorrow was seen in the countenances of all present, but they 
determined to renew the contest with redoubled vigor at the next session. 
Just at this moment Mr. Clarkson joined them. Eight years of retirement 

had nearly restored him. and the first moment he found himself able to embark 



in the cause, he returned to his post. As it was probable the bill would be 
passed the next year, by the commons, and if so, that it would go to the lords, 
and that they might require further evidence, it was judged proper that evi 
dence should be prepared. The band of witnesses which had been last col 
lected were broken by death and dispersion, and a new one was to be formed. 
This Herculean task Mr. Clarkson undertook. He left London immediately, 
and returned in January, 1806, after having traveled in pursuit of his object 
5000 miles. In this month died Mr. Pitt, who had been one of the great sup 
porters of the cause. 

Mr. Clarkson says : " The way in which Mr. Pitt became acquainted with 
this question, has already been explained. A few doubts having been removed, 
when it was first started, he professed himself a friend to the abolition. The 
first proof which he gave of his friendship to it is known to but few ; but it is 
nevertheless true, that so early as in 1788, he occasioned a communication to 
be made to the French grvernment, in which he recommended a union of the 
two countries for the promotion of the great measure. This proposition 
seemed to be then new and strange to the court of France, and the answer was 
not favorable. 

" From this time his efforts were reduced within the boundaries of his own 
powers. As far, however, as he had scope, he exerted them. If we look at 
him in his parliamentary capacity, it must be acknowledged by all that he took 
an active, strenuous and consistent part, and this, year after year, by which he 
realized his professions. In my own private communications with him, which 
were frequent, he never failed to give proof of a similar disposition. I had 
always free access to him. I had no previous note or letter to write for admis 
sion. Whatever papers I wanted he ordered. He exhibited also in his con 
versation with me on these occasions marks of more than ordinary interest in 
the welfare of the cause. Among the subjects which were started, there was 
one which was always near his heart. This was the civilization of Africa. He 
looked upon this great work as a debt due to that continent for the many inju 
ries we had inflicted upon it : and had the abolition succeeded sooner, as in the 
infancy of his exertions he had hoped, I know he had a plan, suited no doubt 
to the capaciousness of his own mind, for such establishments in Africa as he 
conceived would promote in due time this important end." 

On the 31st March, 1806, the question was ushered again into parliament, 
but under new auspices, namely, under the administration of Lord Grenville 
and Mr. Fox. It was thought proper that Mr. Wilberforce should be, as it 
were, in the back ground on this occasion, and that the attorney general, as a 
conspicuous officer of the government, should introduce it. The latter accord 
ingly brought in a bill, one of the objects of which was to prevent British 
merchants and British capital from being employed in the foreign slave-trade. 
This bill passed both houses of parliament, and was therefore the first that 
dismembered the traffic. In the debate it was declared, in substance, both by 
Lord Grenville and Mr. Fox, in their respective houses, that they would do 
ever" thing to effect the abolition, and should they succeed in such a noble 


work, they would regard their success as entailing more true glory on their 
administration, and more honor and advantage on the country than any other 
measure in which they could be engaged. 

On the 10th of June, Mr. Fox, in a speech most luminous and pathetic, fol 
lowed up the victory which had been just gained, by moving a resolution "that 
this house, considering the African slave-trade to be contrary to the principles 
of humanity, justice and policy, will, with all practical expedition, take effectual 
measures for the abolition of it in such manner and at such a period as may 
be deemed most advisable." This motion produced a strong opposition, and 
an interesting debate. It was supported by Milbank, Francis, Sir Samuel 
Romilly, Wilberforce, Petty, Newport, Canning and Smith. It was carried 
by a majority of 114 to 15. Mr. Wilberforce directly moved an address to the 
king " praying him to direct a negotiation to be entered into by which foreign 
powers should be invited to cooperate with his majesty in measures to be adopt 
ed for the abolition of the African slave-trade. " This was carried, but with 
out a division. On the 24th June, the lords met to consider both the resolution 
and address. In order to create delay, a proposition was directly made that 
counsel and evidence should be heard. This was overruled. Lord Grenville 
then rose up and introduced the subject. His speech was among the master 
pieces of eloquence. 

Lord Grenville read the resolution of the commons. This resolution, he 
said, stated first, that the slave-trade was contrary to humanity, justice, and 
sound policy. That it was contrary to humanity, was obvious ; for humanity 
might be said to be sympathy for the distress of others, or a desire to accom 
plish benevolent ends by good means. But did not the slave-trade convey 
ideas the very reverse of this definition ? It deprived men of all those com 
forts in which it pleased the Creator to make the happiness of his creatures to 
consist, of the blessings of society, of the charities of the dear relationships of 
husband, wife, father, son, and kindred ; of the due discharge of the relative 
duties of these, and of that freedom which in its pure and natural sense was 
one of the greatest gifts of God to man. 

Having shown the inhumanity, he would proceed to the second point in the 
resolution, or the injustice of the trade. We had two ideas of justice, first, as 
it belonged to society by virtue of a social compact ; and, secondly, as it be 
longed to men, not as citizens of a community, but as beings of one common 
nature. In a state of nature, man had a right to the fruit of his own labor 
absolutely to himself ; and one of the main purposes for which he entered into 
society was, that he might be better protected in the possession of his rights. 
In both cases, therefore, it was manifestly unjust that a man should be made 
to labor during the whole of his life, and yet have no benefit from his labor. 
Hence, the slave-trade and the colonial slavery were a violation of the very 
principal upon which all law for the protection of property was founded. 
Whatever benefit was derived from that trade to an individual, it was derived 
from dishonor and dishonesty. He forced from the unhappy victim of it, that 
which the latter did not wish to give him ; and he gave to the sftrae victim, 


that which he in vain attempted to show was an equivalent to the thing he 
took, it being a thing for which there was no equivalent ; and which, if he had 
not obtained by force, he would not have possessed at all. Nor could there be 
any answer to this reasoning, unless it could be proved that it had pleased God 
to give to the inhabitants of Britain a property in the liberty and life of the 
natives of Africa. But he would go further on this subject. The injustice 
complained of was not confined to the bare circumstance of robbing them of 
the right to their own labor. It was conspicuous throughout the system. They 
who bought them, became guilty of all the crimes which had been committed 
in procuring them ; and, when they possessed them, of all the crimes which 
belonged to their inhuman treatment. The injustice, in the latter case, amount 
ed frequently to murder. For what was it but murder to pursue a practice 
which produced untimely death to thousands of innocent and helpless beings ? 
It was a duty which their lordships owed to their Creator, if they hoped for 
mercy, to do away this monstrous oppression. 

With respect to the impolicy of the trade (the third point in the resolution) 
he would say at once, that whatever was inhuman and unjust must be impolitic. 
He had, however, no objection to argue the point upon its own particular 
merits ; and, first, he would observe that a great man, Mr. Pitt, now no more, 
had exerted his vast powers on many subjects to the admiration of his hearers ; 
but on none more successfully than on the subject of the abolition of the slave- 
trade. He proved, after making an allowance for the price paid for the slaves in 
the West Indies, for the loss of them in the seasoning, and for the expense of 
maintaining them afterwards, and comparing these particulars with the amount 
in value of their labor there, that the evils endured by the victims of the traffic 
were no gain to the master in whose service they took place. Indeed, Mr. 
Long had laid it down in his history of Jamaica, that the best way to secure 
the planters from ruin would be to do that which the resolution recommended. 
It was notorious that when any planter was in distress and sought to relieve 
himself by increasing the labor on his estate by means of the purchase of new 
slaves, the measure invariably tended to his destruction. What, then, was the 
importation of fresh Africans but a system tending to the general ruin of the 
islands ? 

To expose the impolicy of the trade further, he would observe that it was 
an allowed axiom, that as the condition of man was improved, he became more 
useful. The history of our own country, in very early times, exhibited in 
stances of internal slavery, and this to a considerable extent. But we should 
find that precisely in proportion as that slavery was ameliorated, the power 
and prosperity of the country flourished. This was exactly applicable to the 
case in question. There could be no general amelioration of slavery in the 
West Indies while the slave-trade lasted ; but, if we were to abolish it, we 
should make it the interest of every owner of slaves to do that which would 
improve their condition ; and which, indeed, would lead, ultimately, to the an 
nihilation of slavery itself. This great event, however, could not be accom 
plished at once. It could only be effected in a course of time. 


It would be endless, he said, to go into all the cases which would manifest 
the impolicy of this odious traffic. Inhuman as it was, unjust as it was, he 
believed it to be equally impolitic ; and if their lordships should be of this 
opinion also, he hoped they would agree to that part of the resolution in which 
these truths were expressed. With respect to the other part of it, or that they 
would proceed to abolish the trade, he observed, that neither the time nor the 
manner of doing it were specified. Hence, if any of them should differ as to 
these particulars, they might yet vote for the resolution, as they were not 
pledged to anything definite in these respects, provided they thought that the 
trade should be abolished at some time or other ; and he did not believe that 
there was any one of them who would sanction its continuance forever. 

Lord Havvkesbury said that he did not mean to discuss the question on the 
ground of justice and humanity, as contradistinguished from sound policy. If 
it could fairly be made out that the African slave-trade was contrary to justice 
and humanity, it ought to be abolished. It did not, however, follow because 
a great evil existed, that therefore it should be removed ; for it might be 
comparatively a less evil than that which would accompany the attempt to re 
move it. The noble lord who had just spoken, had exemplified this; for, 
though slavery was a great evil in itself, he was of opinion that it could not be 
done away but in a course of time. 

The Bishop of London (Dr. Porteus) began by noticing the concession of 
the last speaker, namely, that if the trade was contrary to humanity and justice, 
it ought to be abolished. He expected, he said, that the noble lord would 
have proved that it was not contrary to these great principles, before he had 
eupported its continuance ; but not a word had he said to show that the basis 
of the resolution in these respects was false. It followed, then, he thought, 
that as the noble lord had not disproved the premises, he was bound to abide 
by the conclusion. 

The lord chancellor (Erskine) confessed that he was not satisfied with his 
own conduct on this subject. He acknowledged, with deep contrition, that 
during the time he was a member of the other house, he had not once attended 
when this great question was discussed. 

In the West Indies he could say personally, that the slaves were well treated, 
where he had an opportunity of seeing them. But no judgment was to be 
formed there with respect to the evils complained of. They must be appreci 
ated as they existed in the trade. Of these he had also been an eye-witness. 
It was on this account that he felt contrition for not having attended the house 
on this subject ; for there were some cruelties in this traffic which the human 
imagination could not aggravate. He had witnessed such scenes over the 
whole coast of Africa ; and he could say, that if their lordships could only 
have a sudden glimpse of them, they would be struck with horror, and would 
be astonished that they could ever have been permitted to exist. What, then, 
would they say to their continuance year after year, and from age to age? 

From information which he could not dispute, he was warranted in saying 
that on this continent husbands were fraudulently and forcibly severed from 


their wives, and parents from their childran ; and that all the ties of blood and 
affection were torn up by the roots. He had himself seen the unhappy natives 
put together in heaps in the hold of a ship, where, with every possible atten 
tion to them, their situation must have been intolerable. He had also heard 
proved, in courts of justice, facts still more dreadful than those which he had 
seen. One of these he would just mention. The slaves on board a certain 
ship rose in a mass to liberate themselves ; and having advanced far in the pur 
suit of their object, it became necessary to repel them by force. Some of them 
yielded ; some of them were killed in the scuffle ; but many of them actually 
iumped into the sea and were drowned ; thus preferring death to the misery of 
their situation ; while others hung to the ship, repenting of their rashness, and 
bewailing with frightful noises their horrid fate. Thus the whole vessel exhib 
ited but one hideous scene of wretchedness. They who were subdued and se 
cured in chains were seized with the flux, which carried many of them off. 
These things were proved in a trial before a British jury, which had to consider 
whether this was a loss which fell within the policy of insurance, the slaves be 
ing regarded as if they had been only a cargo of dead matter. He could men 
tion other instances, but they were much too shocking to be described. Surely 
their lordships could never consider such a traffic to be consistent with human 
ity or justice. It was impossible. 

That the trade had long existed there was no doubt ; but this was no ar 
gument for its continuance. Many evils of much longer standing had been 
done away ; and it was always our duty to attempt to remove them. Should 
we not exult in the consideration that we, the inhabitants of a small island, at 
the extremity of the globe, almost at its north pole, were become the morning- 
star to enlighten the nations of the earth, and to conduct them out of the shades 
of darkness into the realms of light ; thus exhibiting to an astonished and an 
admiring world the blessings of a free constitution ? Let us, then, not allow 
such a glorious opportunity to escape us. 

It had been urged that we should suffer by the abolition of the slave-trade. 
He believed we should not suffer. He believed that our duty and our interest 
were inseparable : and he had no difficulty in saying, in the face of the world, 
that his own opinion was that the interests of a nation would be best preserved 
by its adherence to the principles of humanity, justice, and religion. 

The Earl of Westmoreland said that the African slave-trade might be con 
trary to humanity and justice, and yet it might be politic ; at least, it might 
be inconsistent with humanity, and yet be not inconsistent with justice : this 
was the case when we executed a criminal or engaged in war. 

Lord Holland, in reply, said that the noble earl had made a difference be- 
ween humanity, justice, and sound policy. God forbid that we should ever 
admit such distinctions in this country I But he had gone further, and said 
that a thing might be inhuman and yet not unjust ; and he put the case of the 
execution of a criminal in support of it. Did he not by this position confound 
all notions of right and wrong in human institutions ? When a criminal was 


justly executed, was not the execution justice to him who suffered and human 
ity to the body of the people at large ? 

He wished most heartily for the total abolition of the trade. He was con 
vinced that it was both inhuman, unjust, and impolitic. This had always been 
his opinion as an individual since he was capable of forming one. It was his 
opinion then as a legislator. It was his opinion as a colonial proprietor ; and 
it was his opinion as an Englishman, wishing for the prosperity of the British 

The Earl of Suffolk contended that the population of the slaves in the is 
lands could be kept up by good treatment, so as to be sufficient for their culti 
vation. He entered into a detail of calculations from the year 1772 down 
wards in support of this statement. He believed all the miseries of St. Do 
mingo arose from the vast importation of Africans. He had such a deep sense 
of the inhumanity and injustice of the slave-trade, that if he ever wished any 
action of his life to be recorded, it would be that of the vote he should then 
give in support of the resolution. 

Lord Sidmouth said that he agreed to the substance of the resolution, but 
yet he could not support it. Could he be convinced that the trade would be 
injurious to the cause of humanity and justice, the question with him would 
be decided ; for policy could not be opposed to humanity and justice. He had 
been of the opinion for the last twenty years that the interests of the country 
and those of numerous individuals were so deeply blended with this traffic that 
we should be very cautious how we proceeded. With respect to the cultiva 
tion of new lands, he would not allow a single negro to be imported for such 
a purpose ; but he must have a regard for the old plantations. When he found 
a sufficient increase in the black population to continue the cultivation already 
established there, then, but not till then, he would agree to an abolition of the 

Earl Stanhope said he would not detain their lordships long. He could not, 
however, help expressing his astonishment at what had fallen from the last 
speaker ; for he had evidently conlessed that the slave-trade was inhuman and 
unjust, and then he had insinuated that it was neither inhuman nor unjust to 
continue it. A more paradoxical or whimsical opinion, he believed, was never 
entertained, or more whimsically expressed in that house. The noble viscount 
had talked of the interests of the planters ; but this was but a part of the sub 
ject, for surely the people of Africa were not to be forgotten. He did not 
understand the practice of complimenting the planters with the lives of men, 
women, and helpless children by thousands for the sake of their pecuniary ad 
vantage ; and they who adopted it, whatever they might think of the consis 
tency of their own conduct, offered an insult to the sacred names of humanity 
and justice. 

Earl Grosvenor could not but express the joy he felt at the hope, after all 
his disappointments, that this wicked trade would be done away. He hoped 
that his majesty's ministers were in earnest, and that they would, early in the 
next session, take this great question up with a determination to go through 


with it ; so that another year should not pass before we extended the justice 
and humanity of the country to the helpless and unhappy inhabitants of Africa. 

Earl Fitzwilliam said he was fearful lest the calamities of St. Domingo 
should be brought home to our own islands. We ought not, he thought, too 
hastily to adopt the resolution on that account. He should therefore support 
the previous question. 

Lord Ellenborough said he was sorry to differ from his noble friend, (lord 
Sidmouth,) and yet he could not help saying that if after twenty years, during 
which this question had been discussed by both houses of parliament, their 
lordships' judgments were not ripe for its determination, he could not look with 
any confidence to a time when they would be ready to decide it. 

The question then before them was short and plain. It was, whether the 
African slave-trade was inhuman, unjust, and impolitic. If the premises were 
true, we could not too speedily bring it to a conclusiou. 

Earl Spencer agreed with the noble viscount (Sidmouth) that the ameliora 
tion of the condition of the slaves was an object which might be effected in the 
West Indies ; but he was certain that the most effectual way of improving it 
would be by the total and immediate abolition of the slave-trade ; and for that 
reason he would support the resolution. Had the resolution held out emanci 
pation to them, it would not have had his assent ; for it would have ill become 
the character of this country, if it had been once promised, to have withheld 
it from them. It was to such deception that the horrors of St. Domingo were 
to be attributed. He would not enter into the discussion of the general sub 
ject at present. He was convinced that the trade was what the resolution 
stated it to be, inhuman, unjust, and impolitic. He wished, therefore, most 
earnestly indeed, for its abolition. As to the mode of effecting it, it should be 
such as would be attended with the least inconvenience to all parties. At the 
same time he would not allow small inconveniences to stand in the way of the 
great claims of humanity, justice, and religion. 

The resolution and address were both carried by a majority of 41 to 20. 
After this a belief was generally prevalent that the slave-trade would fall at 
the next session ; but for fear that it should be carried on in the interior, being 
as it were the last harvest of the merchants, to a tenfold extent, and with ten 
fold murder and desolation, a law was passed that no new vessel should be 
permitted to go to the coast of Africa for slaves. In the month of October 
after these victories, died Charles James Fox, one of the noblest champions of 
this noble cause. He had lived to put it in a train for final triumph this 
triumph he enjoyed in anticipation the prospect of it soothed his pains and 
cheered his spirit in the hours of his last sickness. The hope of it quivered 
on his lips in the hour of dissolution. 

The contest was renewed in January, 1801. Lord Grenville brought the 
question first before the house of lords in the shape of a bill, which he called 
"An act for the abolition of the the slave-trade." On the 4th four -counsel 
were heard against it. On the 5th the debate commenced. The bill was car 
ried at 4 o'clock in the morning by a vote of 100 to 36. On the 10th of Feb- 


ruary it went to the commons. On the 20th counsel were heard against it. On 
the 23d a debate ensued; and it was finally carried by the vast majority of 283 
to 16. On the 6th of March the blanks were filled up. It provided that no 
vessel should clear out for slaves from any port in the British dominions after 
May 1, 1807, and that no slave should be landed in the British colonies after 
March 1, 1808. The bill was sent back to the lords, with the blanks filled up ; 
and in consequence of various amendments, it passed and repassed from one 
house to the other. On the 24th it passed both houses, and on the 25th it re 
ceived the royal assent. 

Thus passed, after twenty years' hard struggle, during which the field had 
been disputed inch by inch, this "rnagna charta for Africa in Britain." The 
news of the event was received with demonstrations of joy throughout the 
kingdom, and this joy was heightened by authentic news from the United 
States that a similar law had been passed by congress. 

At first the only punishment for continuing the traffic, now declared illegal, 
was a penalty in money ; but this was found so utterly insufficient, that in 
1811 an act was carried by Lord Brougham, making slave-dealing felony, pun 
ishable by transportation for fourteen years, or imprisonment with hard labor. 
Even this was found inadequate, and in 1824 the slave-trade was declared to 
be piracy, and the punishment death. In 1837, when the number of capital 
offenses was diminished, the punishment was changed to transportation for life. 

THE BRITISH COLONIES, (3 and 4 William IV.) and 20,000,000 were granted 
by parliament as indemnification to the slave proprietors and other pecuniary 
sufferers by the act. By this act 770,280 slaves became free. 

Although the United States have never relieved themselves from the burden 
of slavery, they were the first to prohibit the prosecution of the slave-trade. 
In the year 1794, it was enacted that no person in the United States should 
fit out any vessel there for the purpose of carrying on any traffic in slaves to 
any foreign country, or for procuring from any foreign country the inhabitants 
thereof, to be disposed of as slaves. In 1800 it was enacted that it should be 
unlawful for any citizen of the United States to have any property in any ves 
sel employed in transporting slaves from one foreign country to another, or to 
serve on board any vessel so employed. Any of the commissioned vessels of 
the United States were authorized to seize and take any vessel employed in the 
slave-trade, to be proceeded against in any of the circuit or district courts, and 
to be condemned for the use of the officers and crew of the vessel making the 
capture. In 1807, it was enacted, that after the first of January, 1808, it 
should not be lawful to bring into the United States, or the territories thereof, 
from any foreign place, any negro, mulatto, or person of color, with intent to 
hold or sell him as a slave; and heavy penalties are imposed on the violators 
of these acts, and others of similar import. In 1820, it was enacted, that if 
any citizen of the United States, belonging to the company of any foreign 
vessel engaged in the slave-trade, or any person whatever belonging to the 
company of any vessel, owned in whole or in part by, or navigated for any 


citizen of the United States, should land on any foreign shore, to seize any 
uegro, or mulatto, not held to service by the laws of either of the states or ter 
ritories of the United States, with intent to make him a sluve, or should decoy 
or forcibly carry off such negro, or mulatto, or receive him ou board any such 
vessel, with the intent aforesaid, he should be adjudged a pirate, and, on con 
viction, should suffer death. The same penalty was extended to those of the 
ship's company who should aid in confining such negro, or mulatto, on board 
of such vessel, or transfer him, on the sea or tide-water, to any other ship or 
vessel, or land him, with intent to sell, or having previously sold him. 

In Denmark, king Christian VII. , in 1794, declared the slave-trade unlawful 
after January 1, 1804 ; and Frederic VI. promised, at the peace of Tilsit, to 
prohibit his subjects from taking pare in the foreign slave-trade. In France, 
Napoleon, when first consul, promised the continuance of their liberty to the 
inhabitants of St. Domingo, whilst he praised the inhabitants of Isle de France 
for not having freed their slaves, and promised that France would never again 
decree the slavery of the whites by the liberation of the negroes. After the 
successes of the French on St. Domingo, the slave-trade was once more estab 
lished. In 1814, Lord Castlereagh obtained from Louis XVIII. a promise 
that France would abolish the slave-trade ; but, by the influence of the cham 
ber of commerce at Nantes, this traffic was permitted for five years more. 
Public opinion obliged Lord Castlereagh to press upon the congress of Vienna 
the adoption of general measures for the abolition of the slave-trade ; but all 
that he could effect was that Spain and Portugal promised to give up the slave- 
trade north of the line. See the treaty between England and Portugal, Vi 
enna, January 22, 1815. But a paper was drawn up and signed by Castlereagh, 
Stewart, Wellington, Nesselrqde, Lowenhielm, Gomez Labrador, Palmella, 
Saldanha, Lobo, Humboldt, Metternich and Talleyrand, (Vienna, February 8, 
1815,) stating that the great powers would make arrangements to fix a term 
for the general abolition of the slave-trade, since public opinion condemned it 
as a stain on European civilization. February 6, 1815, Portugal provided for 
the total abolition of the slave-trade on January 21, 1823, and England prom 
ised to pay 300,000 as an indemnification to Portuguese subjects. Louis 
XVIII., by the treaty of Paris, November 20, 1815, consented to its immedi 
ate abolition, for which Napoleon had declared himself prepared, in April, 
1815. Spain promised, by the treaty of September 30, 1817, to abolish the 
slave-trade entirely, October 31, 1820, in all the Spanish territories, even 
south of the line; and England, February 9, 1818, paid 400,000 as an in 
demnification to Spanish subjects. The king of the Netherlands prohibited 
his subjects from taking part in the slave-trade after the provisions of the 
treaty of August 13, 1814, had been rendered more precise and extensive by 
the treaty concluded with England, at the Hague, May 4, 1818. Sweden had 
already done the same, according to the treaty of March 3, 1813. The United 
States engaged, in the treaty of Ghent, December 24, 1814, to do all in their 
power for the entire suppression of the slave-trade. November 23, 1826, 


treaty was concluded by England with Brazil, for the abolition of the slave- 
trade, and it was accordingly prohibited after March, 1830. 

The emperor of Austria issued a decree utterly abolishing slavery through 
out the Austrian dominions. "Every man," said his imperial majesty, ''by 
the right of nature, sanctioned by reason, must be considered a free person," 
Every slave becomes free the moment he touches the Austrian soil, or even an 
Austrian ship. 

The rising republics of South America took a stand against slavery and the 
slave-trade. One of the first acts of the constitutional assembly of Guate 
mala was the abolition of slavery. The 13th article of their constitution de 
clared every man in the republic free ; that no one who took refuge under its 
laws should be a slave ; and that no one should be accounted a citizen who was 
engaged in the slave-trade. 

In 1829, Guerrero, the President of Mexico, issued the following decree : 

" Desiring to signalize the year 1829, the anniversary of our independence, 
by an act of national justice and beneficence that may turn to the benefit and 
support of such a valuable good ; that may consolidate more and more public 
tranquility ; that may cooperate to the aggrandizement of the republic, and 
return to an unfortunate portion of its inhabitants those rights which they hold 
from nature, and that the people protect by wise and equitable laws, in con 
formity with the 30th article of the constitutive act, 

" Making use of the extraordinary faculties which have been granted to the 
executive, I thus decree : 

" 1st. Slavery is forever abolished in the republic. 

" 2d. Consequently all those individuals who until this day looked upon 
themselves as slaves, are free. 

" 3d. When the financial situation of the republic admits, the proprietors of 
slaves shall be indemnified, and the indemnification regulated by a law. 

" And in order that the present decree may have its full and entire execu 
tion, I order it to be printed, published and circulated to all those whose obli 
gation it is to have it fulfilled. 

" Given in the federal palace of Mexico, on the 15th of September, 1829." 

In Colombia, slave children born after the revolution were to be free at 
eighteen. In South America, except Brazil, slavery is either abolished or 
drawing to a close. 

The action of the United States government in abolishing the slave-trade, 
and its efforts to suppress the illegal traffic, are referred to in subsequent chap 
ters. The treaties and conventions of England with foreign nations for the 
suppression of the slave-trade will also be found in another part of the vol 
ume. The practical results of all these labors are exhibited in the chapters re 
lating to the slave-trade after its nominal abolition. 



s k t fiU&fejMii- x ' 


Discovery and settlement of the island by the Spaniards. The natives reduced to slavery. 
Cruelty of the Spaniards towards them. Great mortality in consequence. Their 
numbers replenished from the Bahamas. The Dominicans become interested for them. 
Las Casas appeals to Cardinal Ximines, who sends commissioners. They set the 
natives at liberty. The colonists remonstrate against the measure, and the Indians 
again reduced to slavery. Las Casas seeks a remedy. The Emperor allows the intro 
duction of Africans. Guinea slave-trade established. The buccaneers. The French 
Colony. Its condition in 1789. Enormous slave-population. The Mulattoes. The 
French Revolution its effect on the Colonists. First Insurrection terrible execution 
of the leaders. Second Insurrection massacre and conflagration unparallelled hor 
rors. Burning Port au Prince. L'Ouverture appears, the spirit and ruler of the 
storm. French expedition of 25,000 men sent to suppress the Insurrection. Toussaint 
sent prisoner to France dies in prison. The slaves establish their freedom. Inde 
pendence of Hayti acknowledged by France. 


.ISPANIOLA, St. Domingo, or Hayti, is not only one of the largest but 
also one of the most beautiful and productive of the West India islands. It 
is 390 miles long, its breadth is from 60 to 150 miles, and its scenery is 
diversified by lofty mountains, deep valleys and extensive plains, or savannas, 
dotted with the luxuriant vegetation of a tropical climate. The sea sweeps 
boldly into the land, here and there forming commodious harbors and extensive 
bays. The air on the plains is warm and laden with the perfume of flowers ; 
and the sudden changes from drouth to rain, though trying to an unacclimated 
constitution, are favorable to the growth of the rich products of the soil. 

Columbus and his successors having founded a settlement on the island, it 
became one of the Spanish colonial possessions, to the great misfortune of the 
unhappy natives, who were almost annihilated by the labor which the colonists 
imposed upon them. They soon dwindled away to a mere remnant. Of a 
population of a million found on the island by Columbus, scarcely twenty-four 
thousand remained at the time of the governorship of the island by his son, 
Don Diego Columbus, and these were fast sinking into the grave under the de 
structive influence of cruelty and hardship. In this emergeney expeditions 
were fitted out to the Bahama islands in order to decoy from their homes the 
gentle and confiding race which inhabited them, to be sold as slaves in His- 
paniola. They were but too successful. Availing themselves of the fond su 
perstition of the natives, that the departed spirits of their friends, after an 
expiation of their sins by a purgatory of cold in the mountains of the north, 
passed to more sunny realms, under a more tropical sky, where they enjoyed 
an indolent paradise forever, the crafty Spaniards alleged that they came from 
this land of their departed relatives, and invited them to go thither and rejoin 
them.* The simple Indians trusted to the tale and went to inevitable and 
deadly servitude. Like their predecessors of Hispaniola, they died at their 

*Peter Martyr. 


tasks, or in despair put an end to their own existence, while new cargoes of 
their race were arriving daily to the same wretchedness and death. 

To the honor of the ecclesiastics of the colony, their exertions were unre- 
mitted to ameliorate the condition and retard the ultimate fate of the natives. 
Of the two orders of clergy to whom the spiritual interests of the colony had 
been committed, the Dominicans had ever manifested a zeal and unyielding 
ardor that left their brethren, the Franciscans, far behind. In the ranks of the 
former was Las Casas, the celebrated bishop of Chiapa. To save the inter 
esting and gentle race of natives from the destructiveness of slavery, was with 
him more than a passion it seemed the ruling and guiding principle of his 
soul. In consequence of his pious appeals to Cardinal Ximines, the regent of 
Spain, three commissioners were sent out with full powers to adjust the condi 
tion of the Indians. There were two parties in the colony. The Dominicans, 
acting in accordance with what they esteemed a law of Heaven, denounced the 
right and impugned the justice of enslaving the Indians. The interested col 
onists, and the Franciscans, who were for a modified servitude, sustained them 
selves against their opponents on grounds of expediency and the right of con 
quest. To the deputation appointed by Cardinal Ximines were added a law 
yer of distinguished probity, whose name was Zuazo, and Las Casas, upon 
whom had been conferred the title of Protector of the Indians. The first act 
of the commissioners was to set at liberty all the Indians that had been granted 
to the Spanish courtiers, or to any person not residing in the island. 

This achievement of the commissioners spread anger and consternation 
among the colonists. The Spaniards were exasperated or discouraged. The 
lands could not be cultivated without laborers, and panic, discontent and dis 
couragement were general. The commissioners soon began to doubt the solidi 
ty of their policy, and yielded to the storm of passion that was beating on 
them. The subject was maturely reconsidered, and the question and the colony 
set at rest by the final decision of the commissioners, that the state of the 
colony rendered the slavery of the Indians necessary. 

The enthusiastic philanthropy of Las Casas had not been turned from its 
object by the decision of the commissioners. Not discouraged at the obstacles 
he had to encounter, he now ranged his eye through the whole horizon of pos 
sibilities to seek in some quarter for a gleam of hope to illumine the dark 
destiny of that unhappy people which occupied all his sympathies. A small 
number of a hardier race, the negroes of Guinea, had been imported into the 
island. They were found stronger than the Indians, and more capable of en 
during labor under the burning heats of the climate ; so much so, that it was 
computed that the labor of one negro was worth that of four Indians. " The 
Africans," says Herrera, "prospered so much in the colony, that it was the 
opinion that unless a negro should happen to be hung he would never die, for 
as yet none had been known to perish from infirmity." Las Casas proposed 
the substitution of African for Indian laborers in the new world. His repre 
sentations were listened to with a favorable ear by the emperor, and a patent 
was granted allowing the introduction of four thousand negroes into Hispaniola 


and a regular traffic between the Guinea coast and the colony was soon estab 

This statement, however, has been contradicted by the abbe" Gre"goire, in his 
Apologie de B. de Las Casas, in the memoirs of the French institute ; also 
by the writer of the article Casas, in the Biographic Universelle, after an ex 
amination of ail the Spanish and Portuguese historians of that period. This 
charge, he says, rests solely on the authority of Herrera, an elegant but inac 
curate writer. " Negro slavery," says another writer, " was a device struck 
out in a bold and unconscieiitious age to meet a great emergency, the age of 
Cortes and Pizarro." But by it an evil of fearful magnitude has been entailed 
upon our hemisphere. 

The true sources of wealth iu the island were now ascertained, not to con 
sist in digging for gold among the barren mountains, but in cultivating the 
rich soil of the plains. The sugar-cane was introduced and extensively culti 
vated. In the hard labor necessary in rearing and manipulating it, the hardi 
ness of the negro was shown infinitely superior to the fragile Indian. Planta 
tion after plantation was brought under cultivation, and yielded a handsome 
profit. Both Indians and negroes were tasked beyond all reasonable bounds, 
and the consequence was that the former died and the latter rebelled. 

As Spain, however, extended her conquests on the main land, the import 
ance of Hispauiola as a colony began to decline ; and at the beginning of the 
seventeenth century the island had become nearly a desert, the natives having 
been all but extirpated, and the Spanish residents being few, and congregated 
in several widely-separated stations round the coast. At this time the West 
Indian seas swarmed with buccaneers, adventurers without homes, families, or 
country, the refuse of all nations and climes. These men, the majority of whom 
were French, English, and Dutch, being prevented by the Spaniards from hold 
ing any permanent settlement in the new world, banded together in self-defense, 
and roved the seas in quest of subsistence, seizing vessels, and occasionally 
landing on the coast of one of the Spanish possessions, and committing terri 
ble ravages. A party of these buccaneers had, about the year 1629, occupied 
the small island of Tortuga, on the northwest coast of St. Domingo. From 
this island they used to make frequent incursions into St. Domingo, 
for the purpose of hunting; the forests of that island abounding with 
wild cattle, horses and swine, the progeny of the tame animals which the Span 
iards had introduced into the island. At length, after various struggles with 
the Spanish occupants, these adventurers made good their footing in the island 
of St. Domingo, drove the Spaniards to its eastern extremity, and became 
masters of its western parts. As most of them were of French origin, they 
were desirous of placing themselves under the protection of France ; and 
Louis XIY. and his government being flattered with the prospect of thus ac 
quiring a rich possession in the new world, a friendly intercourse between 

*Brown's History St. Domingo. 



France and St. Domingo began, and the western part of the island assumed 
the character of a flourishing French colony, while the Spanish colony in the 
other end of the island correspondingly declined. 

From 1776 to 1789, the French colony was at the height of its prosperity. 
To use the words of a French historian, every thing had received a prodigious 
improvement. The torrents had been arrested in their course, the marshes 
drained, the forests cleared ; the soil had been enriched with foreign plants ; 
roads had been opened across the asperities of the mountains ; safe pathways 
had been constructed over chasms ; bridges had been built over rivers which 
had formerly been passed with danger by means of ox-skin boats ; the winds, 
the tides, the currents had been studied, so as to secure to ships safe sailing 
and convenient harborage. Yillas of pretty but simple architecture had risen 
along the borders of the sea, while mansions of greater magnificence embel 
lished the interior. Public buildings, hospitals, acqueducts, fountains, and 
baths rendered life agreeable and healthy ; all the comforts of the old world 
had been transported into the new. In 1789 the population of the colony was 
665,000 ; and of its staple products, it exported in that year 68,000,000 
pounds of coffee, and 163,000,000 pounds of sugar. The French had some 
reason to be proud of St. Domingo ; it was their best colony, and it promised, 
as they thought, to remain for ages in their possession. Many French families 
of note had emigrated to the island, and settled in it as planters ; and both by 
means of commerce and the passing to and fro of families, a constant inter 
course was maintained between the colony and the mother country. 

Circumstances eventually proved that the expectation of keeping permanent 
possession of St. Domingo was likely to be fallacious. The constitution of 
society was unsound. In this, as in all the European colonies in the new 
world, negro slavery prevailed. To supply the demand for labor, an importa 
tion of slaves from Africa had been going on for some time at the rate of 
about 20,000 a year ; and thus, at the time at which we are now arrived, there 
was a black population of between 500,000 and 600,000. These negroes con 
stituted aii overwhelming majority of the inhabitants of the colony, for the 
whites did not amount to more than 40,000. But besides the whites and the 
negroes, there was a third class in the population, arising from the intermix-, 
ture of the white and negro races. These were the people of color, includ 
ing persons of all varieties of hue, from the perfect sable of the freed negro, 
to the most delicate tinge marking remote negro ancestry in a white man. Of 
these various classes of mulattoes, at the time of which we are now speaking, 
there were about 30,000 in the colony. 

Although perhaps less cruelly treated than others in a state of hopeless ser 
vitude, the negroes of St. Domingo were not exempt from the miseries which 
usually accompany slavery ; yet they were not so ignorant as not to know their 
rights as members of the human family. Receiving occasional instruction in 
the doctrines of Christianity, and allowed by their masters to enjoy the holi 
days of the church, they were accustomed to ponder on the principles thus 
presented to their notice, r.:id these they perceived were at variance with their 


condition. This dawning of intelligence among the negroes caused no alarm 
to the planters generally. The French have always been noted for making the 
kindest slave-owners. Imitating the conduct of many of the old nobility of 
France in their intercourse with the peasantry, a number of the planters of St. 
Domingo were attentive to the wants and feelings of their negro dependents 
tmcouraging their sports, taking care of them in sickness, and cherishing them 
in old age. In the year 1685, likewise, Louis XIV. had published a code 
noir, or black code, containing a number of regulations for the humane treat 
ment of the negroes in the colonies. Still, there were miseries inseparable 
from the system, and which could not be mitigated ; and in St. Domingo, as 
in all other colonies of the new world, slavery was maintained by the cruelties 
of the whip and the branding-iron. It was only, we may easily suppose, by a 
judicious blending of kindness and severity, that a population of upwards of 
500,000 negroes could be kept in subjection by 40,000 whites. 

The condition of the mulatto population deserves particular attention. 
Although nominally free, and belonging to no individual master, these rnulat- 
toes occupied a very degraded social position. Regarded as public property, 
they were obliged to serve in the colonial militia without any pay. They 
could hold no public trust or employment, nor fill any of the liberal profess- 
sions law, medicine, divinity, &c. They were not allowed to sit at table 
with a white, to occupy the same place at church, to bear the same name, or 
to be buried in the same spot. Offenses which in a white man were visited 
with scarcely any punishmenf, were punished with great severity when com 
mitted by a mulatto. There was one circumstance, however, in the condition 
of the mulattoes, which operated as a balance to all those indignities, and en 
abled them to become formidable in the colony they were allowed to acquire 
and to hold property to any amount. Able, energetic, and rendered doubly 
intent upon the acquisition of wealth by the power it gave them, many of 
these mulattoes or people of color became rich, purchased estates, and equaled 
the whites as planters. Not only so, but, possessing the tastes of Europeans 
and gentlemen, they used to quit St. Domingo and pay occasional visits to 
what they as well as the whites regarded as the mother country. It was cus 
tomary for wealthy mulattoes to send their children to Paris for their educa 
tion. It ought to be remarked also respecting the mulatto part of the popu 
lation of St. Domingo, that they kept aloof both from the pure whites and the 
pure negroes. Such was the state of society in the colony of St. Domingo 
in the year 1789-90, when the French Revolution broke out. 

Although situated at the distance of 3500 miles from the mother country, St. 
Domingo was not long in responding to the political agitations which broke 
out in Paris in 1789. When the news reached the colony that the king had 
summoned the States-general, all the French part of the island was in a fer 
ment. Considering themselves entitled to share in the national commotion, the 
colonists held meetings, passed resolutions, and elected eighteen deputies to 
be sent home to sit in the States-general as representatives. The eighteen 
deputies reached Versailles a considerable time after the States-general had 



commenced their sittings, and constituted themselves the National Assembly ; 
and their arrival not a little surprised that body, who probably never expected 
deputies from St. Domingo, or who at all events thought eighteen deputies too 
many for one colony. Accordingly, it was with some difficulty that six of 
them were allowed to take their seats. At that time colonial gentlemen 
were not held in great favor at Paris. Among the many feelings which 
then simultaneously stirred and agitated that great metropolis, there had 
sprung up a strong feeling against negro slavery. Whether the enthusiasm 
was kindled by the recent proceedings of Clarkson and Wilberforce in London, 
or whether it was derived by the French themselves from the political maxims 
then afloat, the writers and speakers of the revolution made the iniquity of 
negro slavery one of their most frequent and favorite topics ; and there had 
just been founded in Paris a society called Amis des Noirs, or friends of the 
blacks, of which the leading revolutionists were members. 

The intelligence of what was occurring at Paris gave great alarm in St. Do 
mingo. When the celebrated declaration of rights, asserting all men to be 
"free and equal," reached the island along with the news of the proceedings of 
the Amis des Noirs, the whites, almost all of whom were interested in the 
preservation of slavery, looked upon their ruin as predetermined. They had no 
objection to freedom in the abstract, freedom which should apply only to them 
selves, but they considered it a violation of all decency to speak of black men, 
mere property, having political rights. What disheartened the whites gave 
encouragement to the mulattoes. Rejoicing in the idea that the French peo 
ple were their friends, they became turbulent, and rose in arms in several 
places, but were without much difficulty put down. Two or three whites, who 
were enthusiastic revolutionists, sided with the insurgents ; and one of them, 
M. de Beaudierre, fell a victim to the fury of the colonists. The negro popu 
lation of the island remained quiet ; the contagion of revolutionary sentiments 
had not yet reached them. 

When the national assembly heard of the alarm which the new constitution 
had excited in the colonies, they saw the necessity for adopting some measures 
to allay the storm; and accordingly, on the 8th of March, 1790, they passed 
a resolution disclaiming all intention to legislate sweepingly for the internal 
affairs of the colonies, and authorizing each colony to mature a plan for itself 
in its own legislative assembly, (the revolution having superseded the old sys 
tem of colonial government by royal officials, and given to each colony a legis 
lative assembly consisting of representatives elected by the colonists,) and 
submit the same to the national assembly. This resolution, which gave great 
dissatisfaction to the Amis des Noirs in Paris, produced a temporary calm in 
St. Domingo. For some time nothing was to be heard but the bustle of elec 
tions throughout the colony; and at length, on the 16th of April, 1790, the 
general assembly met, consisting of 213 representatives. All eyes were upon 
the proceedings of the assembly ; and at length, on the 28th of May, it pub 
lished the results of its deliberations in the form of a new constitution, consist 
ing of ten articles. The provisions of this new constitution, and the language 


in which they were expressed, were astounding; they amounted, in fact, to the 
throwing off of allegiance to the mother country. This very unforeseen result 
created great commotion in the island. The cry rose every where that the 
assembly was rebelling against the mother country; some districts recalled 
their deputies, declaring they would have no concern with such presumptuous 
proceedings ; the governor-general, M. Peynier, was bent on dissolving the 
assembly altogether ; riots were breaking out in various parts of the island, 
and a civil war seemed impending, when in one of its sittings the assembly, 
utterly bewildered and terrified, adopted the extraordinary resolution of going 
on board a ship of war then in the harbor, and sailing bodily to France to 
consult with the national assembly. 

In the meantime, the news of the proceedings of the colonial assembly had 
reached France, and all parties, royalists as well as revolutionists, were indig 
nant at what they called the impudence of these colonial legislators. The 
Amis des Noirs of course took an extreme interest in what was going on ; 
and under their auspices, an attempt was made to take advantage of the dis 
turbances prevailing in the island for the purpose of meliorating the condition 
of the colored population. A young mulatto named James Oge was then re 
siding in Paris, whither he had been sent by his mother, a woman of color, the 
proprietrix of a plantation in St. Domingo. Oge had formed the acquaint 
ance of the Abbe Gregoire, Brissot, Robespierre, Lafayette, and other leading 
revolutionists connected with the society of the Amis des Noirs, and fired by 
the ideas which he derived from them, he resolved to return to St. Domingo, 
and, rousing the spirit of insurrection, become the deliverer of his enslaved 
race. Accordingly, paying a visit to America first, he landed in his native is 
land on the 12th of October, 1790, and announced himself as the redresser of 
all wrongs. Matters, however, were not yet ripe for an insurrection ; and after 
committing some outrages with a force of 200 mulattoes, which was all he was 
able to raise, Oge was defeated, and obliged, with one or two associates, to 
take refuge in the Spanish part of the island. M. Blanchelande succeeding 
M. Peynier as governor-general of the colony, demanded Oge from the Span 
iards ; and in March, 1791, the wretched young man was broken alive upon 
the wheel. 

The court convicted Vincent Oge and Jean Baptiste Chevanne, his associ 
ate, of the intent to cause an insurrection of the people of color, and it con 
demned them to be conducted by the public executioner to the church of Cape 
Frai^ois, and there, bare-headed, and en chemise, with a rope about their necks 
upon their knees, and holding in their hands a wax candle of two pounds 
weight, to declare that they had wickedly, rashly, and by evil instigation, com 
mitted the crimes of which they had been accused and convicted ; and then and 
there they repented of them, and asked forgiveness of God, of the king, and 
the violated justice of the realm ; that they should then be conducted to the 
Place d'Armes of the said town, and in the place opposite to that appropriated 
to the execution of white men, to have their arms, legs, hips, and thighs bro 
ken alive; that they should be placed npon a wheel, with their faces towards 


heaven, and there remain so long as God should preserve their lives. After 
their death, their heads were to be severed from their bodies and placed upon 
poles that of Oge on the road to Dondon, and that of Chevannc on the rond 
to Grand Riviere, and the property of both to be confiscated to the king.* 

Chevanne died as he had li*ed, the stern, unyielding enemy of the whiles' : 
but Oge in that terrible moment lost all his firmness. He implored the pity 
of his judges, and offered to reveal important secrets if they would spare his 
life. Twenty-four hours were granted him, and he revealed the existence of a 
wide-laid conspiracy among the mulattoes and negroes of the island; bat :i.< 
not much importance was attached to his communications, he was ordered back 
to punishment. Twenty-one of his associates, among whom was his brother, 
were condemned to be hung, and thirteen others were sent to the galleys for 
life the rest were pardoned. 

Although the insurrection of Oge" was ill-timed and rash, and his death th;it 
of the most degraded criminal, his name and sufferings have ever been hallowed 
in the memory of his race ; and the martyrdom of Oge was ever afterwards 
the rallying signal to encourage and unite the mulattoes in deadly hostility 
against the whites. By this barbarous massacre the breach between these two 
races was made irreconcilable and eternal. However they were united by the 1 
sympathy of relationship, or the ties of interest and property, all these band* 
were sundered by a hatred, deep, rankling, and inexpiable, f 

All this occurred while the eighty-five members of the assembly were absent 
in France. They had reached that country in September, 1790, and been we!) 
received at first; but when they appeared before the national assembly, that-" 
body treated them with marked insult and contempt. On the llth of October, 
Barnave proposed and carried a decree annulling all the acts of the colonial 
assembly, dissolving it, declaring its members ineligible again for the same of 
fice, and detaining the eighty-five unfortunate gentlemen prisoners in France. 
Barnave, however, was averse to any attempt on the part of the national as 
sembly to force a constitution upon the colony against its will ; and especially 
he was averse to any direct interference between the whites and the people of 
color. These matters of internal regulation,*'he said, should be left to the col 
onists themselves ; all that the national assembly should require of the colonists 
was, that they should act in the general spirit of the revolution. Others, how 
ever, among whom were Gregoire, Brissot, Robespierre, and Lafayette, were 
for the home government dictating the leading articles of a new constitution 
for the colony ; and especially they were for some sweeping assertion by the 
national assembly of the equal citizenship of the colored inhabitants of the col 
ony. For some time the debate was carried on between these two parties ; but 
the latter gradually gained strength, and the storm of public indignation which 
was excited by the news of the cruel death of Oge gave them the complete 
victory. Tragedies and dramas founded on the story of Oge were acted in the 
theatres of Paris, and the popular feeling against the planters and in favor of 

* Lacroix. f Brown's Hist. St. Domingo. 


the negroes grew vehement and ungovernable. " Perish the colonies," said 
Robespierre, " rather than depart, in the case of our colored brethren, from 
those universal principles of liberty and equality which it is our glory to have 
laid down." Hurried on by a tide of enthusiasm, the national assembly, on 
the 15th of May, passed a decree declaring all thg people of color in the French 
colonies born of free parents entitled to vote for members of the colonial judi 
catures, as well as to be elected to seats themselves. This decree of admission 
to citizenship concerned, it will be observed, the mulattoes and free blacks only; 
it did not affect the condition of the slave population. 

In little more than a month this decree, along with the intelligence of all 
that had been said and done when it was passed, reached St. Domingo. The 
colony was thrown into convulsions. The white colonists stormed and raged, 
and there was no extremity to which, in the first outburst of their anger, they 
were not ready to go. The national cockade was trampled under foot. It 
was proposed to forswear allegiance to the mother country, seize the French 
ships in the harbors, and the goods of French merchants, and hoist the British 
flag instead of the French. The governor-general, M. Blanchelande, trembled 
for the results. But at length the fury of the colonists somewhat subsided ; a 
new colonial assembly was convened ; hopes began to be entertained that some 
thing might be effected by its labors, when lo ! the news ran through the island 
like the tremor of an earthquake " The blacks have risen !" The appalling 
news was too true. The conspiracy, the existence of which had been divulged 
by Oge before his execution, had burst into explosion. The outbreak had been 
fixed for the 25th of August, 1791 ; but the negroes, impatient as the time 
drew near, had commenced it on the night of the 22d. 

The insurrection now burst forth in all its terror and calamity. The slaves 
of the plantation Turpin, headed by an English negro, set out at 10 o'clock at 
night, in their way drawing into their ranks the slaves of four or five other 
plantations, and commenced the horrors of a wide-spread insurrection. They 
proved to be the veriest tigers in rage and cruelty. The plain of Cape Fran- 
9ois, that might have rivaled the fabled garden of the Hesperides, both in rich 
ness and beauty, was soon in one universal conflagration, the gleams of which 
painted the sky in lurid horror, while the smoke enveloped the whole country 
in uncertain gloom. The ranks of the rebels were increased at every step of 
their progress, and along their march of devastation they murdered every 
white who fell into their power, without distinction of age or sex, viewing with 
fiendish delight the agonies and groans of those whom so lately they had not 
dared to look in the face. 

These scenes of destruction were continued through the night, and on the 
following day the inhabitants of Cape Fran9ois knew nothing of the disasters 
around them, but of the smoke that obscured the horizon and the fugitives 
that were pouring into their gates. Petrified with horror and panic, they 
quickly fastened themselves in their houses, and locked up their slaves. The 
troops of the garrison were the only living objects seen in the streets, as they 
were hurrying to their different posts. An alarm gun soon called the whole 


population to arms. The people came out of their houses, accosted and ques 
tioned each other, and catching courage from the effect of numbers, thcL 1 
former fear was soon changed to an inspiriting cry for vengeance, which, in 
their determined infatuation, was principally directed against the mulattoes. 
These were accused of having instigated the blacks to revolt, and on them it 
was thought immediate and summary vengeance should fall. In the delirium 
of the moment, a few of that unfortunate race expiated with their lives the 
suspicion of their being accomplices with the rebels in the plain. To stop this 
wicked injustice of murdering the innocent for the crimes of the guilty, the 
provincial assembly hastened to assign places of refuge for this proscribed 
caste, who ran thither to put themselves under the protection of the military. 
They demanded arms, especially the mulatto planters, and expressed an eager 
ness to march against the common enemy ; and such was the blindness of cre- 
ole prejudice that even the assembly hesitated at first to accept their offer.* 

The insurrection spread like a stream of electricity, and within four days 
one-third part of the plain of Cape Franpois was but a heap of ashes. Many 
members of the new colonial assembly, in their journey from Leogane to the 
Cape, were surprised and killed by the rebels, and a detachment of troops was 
found necessary to guard the route of the president, secretaries and archives 
of this body. M. Tousard was dispatched against the rebels with a detach 
ment of troops of the line and national guards, together with some grenadiers 
and chasseurs of the regiment of the Cape ; but nothing, without the courage 
and veteran skill of this able officer, could have kept the troops in an imposing 
attitude in such fearful circumstances. On every side, and in every direction, 
they were beset by swarms of the rebels, who seemed to despise danger ani 
defy the utmost that could be done against them. An order from the governor 
general, however, recalled the forces of M. Tousard in haste to Cape Fran9ois, 
where, from the advance of the negroes on that town, the consternation was 
heart-rending. The place was now entirely surrounded with blazing planta 
tions, and even the hideous outcries could be heard of those fiends, who were 
every where triumphant in their march of desolation and massacre. The ad 
vance guard established on the plantation Bongars, had been affrighted from 
its defense of that post, and thus the two most beautiful quarters of the colony, 
those of Morin and Limonade, were given to the torches of the rebels. They 
even advanced to the Haut de Cap, and the cannon brought to play upon their 
huddled masses was scarcely sufficient to check them in their headlong march 
The return of Tousard upon their rear dispersed them, but by his retreat they 
were left in undisputed possession of the country. They immediately extended 
their ravages from the sea-shore to the mountains, and when nothing more was 
left for them to destroy, their headlong tumultuousness began to give place in 
their leisure to a regular organization and a more systematic warfare. Their 
continuance in the field, notwithstanding the vast amount of plunder to tempt 
them from their course, and the celerity and skilfulness of their movements, 

* Lacroix. 


had already given rise to the suspicion that they were guided in their enter 
prise by some being superior to themselves. They no longer exposed them 
selves in masses to the destructive sweep of cannon and small arms, but by 
scattering their detachments, by suddenly dispersing to the shelter of hedges 
and thickets, when occasion required, they often succeeded in surprising or 
surrounding their enemy, arid when neither could be done, in crushing them by 
a vast superiority in numbers. While the preparations for the attack were in 
progress, their obies performed the Ouangah, or mysterious rite to their de 
mons, by which the imaginations of the multitude were heated and strained to 
the utmost degree of tension, and the women and children danced an accompa 
niment to the ceremony with bowlings and outcries that savored of Pandemo 
nium. Amid the excitement of this wild uproar, the attack began with yells 
and terrific gesticulations. If they met with a firm and effective resistance, 
the energy -of their attack soon slackened ; but if the defense was weak and 
faltering, their boldness and audacity became extreme. They rushed forward 
to the cannon's mouth, and thrusting in their arms and bodies, purchased the 
retreat of the enemy by this self-immolation. Contortions and howlings were 
not the only means they used to intimidate their adversaries the flames which 
they applied to the highly inflammable fields of cane, to the houses and mills 
of the plantations, and to their own cabins, covered the heavens with clouds of 
smoke by day, and illuminated the horizon by night with gleams that gave to 
every object the color of blood. After a silence the most profound, there 
would arise an outcry from their camp the most appalling ; this would again 
be followed by the plaintive cries of their prisoners, whom the savages made it 
their sport to sacrifice at their advance posts. 

The insurgents, in full possession of the plain of Cape Fran9ois, were revel 
ing amidst the spoils of the vanquished. The colonists, to intimidate them, 
changed the sluggish and inefficient war they were carrying on to one of ex 
termination. This was ill-timed and impolitic, for the insurrection had grown 
too strong to yield to fear, and the negroes repaid the cruelty by augmenting 
the tortures of their own captives. The negro chiefs would have no neutrals 
among those of their race, and the more faithful slaves, who were found con 
cealing themselves from the rebels, were immediately put to death by their 
own countrymen. On the other hand, parties of enraged whites were travers 
ing the country, and, with an undiscriininating vengeance, killing every living 
thing that was black. The faithful slave, who, in this reciprocal destruction, 
came to claim the protection of his master against those who on either side 
sought his life, was in many instances put to death by that very master himself. 
This blind severity served no purpose but to swell the ranks of the rebels, for 
the peaceable negro could find no security for his life but by assuming arms in 
the ranks of his countrymen. 

In the first moments of the rebellion, the negroes had murdered all their pris 
oners, but as success increased, the complacency of triumph taught them more 
clemency, or perhaps they had become glutted with cruelty and crime. They 
no longer massacred the women and children, and only showed themselves 


cruel to their prisoners taken in battle, whom they put to death with such 
studied tortures as cannot be named without a thrill of horror. They tore 
them with red-hot pincers sawed them asunder between planks roasted 
them by a slow fire or tore out their eyes with red-hot cork-screws. Their 
principal leader, Jean Fran9ois, assumed the title of grand admiral of France, 
and his lieutenant, Biassou, called himself generalissimo of the conquered coun 
try. They were evidently under the guidance and instruction of demons higher 
in intelligence than they. The rebels stated that they were in arms for their 
king, whom their enemies and his had cast into prison ; but at other times 
they asserted that their sole object was to save themselves from their tyrants, 
the planters. 

Te Deum was daily sung by both belligerents, in impious thanksgiving to 
God for what was nothing but a continued massacre. The heads of murdered 
whites, stuck on poles, surrounded the camp of the rebels, and the hedges that 
bordered the way conducting to the posts of the whites were filled with the 
dead bodies of negroes swinging in the wind. 

After a long succession of skirmishes which had resulted in nothing but to 
drive the rebels from the plain to the mountains, whence after the withdrawal 
of the troops they rushed back again to the plain, the negroes were nearly sub 
dued by a combined movement, which had been ordered by M. Blanchelande, 
and executed by M. Tousard. Camp Lecoque and Acul were taken by the 
whites, and a large body of negroes were surrounded upon the plantation 
Alquier, who were surprised by night, and all who were unable to effect an 
escape were cut in pieces. M. Tousard was fortunate enough in this expedi 
tion to save from the hands of the negroes a great number of white children, 
and eighty white females, who were found shut up in the church at Limbe. 

The rebels ascribed their late disasters to treason in their camp. A negro 
named Jeannot was of all their chieftains the most ferocious. Suspecting the 
fidelity of a negro under his orders, who was also accused of having saved his 
master from the knives of the insurgents, this monster ordered that he should 
be cut in pieces and thrown into the fire, on the charge that he had drawn the 
balls from the cartridges of the blacks in their late unsuccessful conflicts with 
M. Tousard. Other acts of cruelty still more revolting are related of this rebel 
chief. The plantation of M. Paradole, situated on Grande Riviere, suffered 
an attack from the insurgents, in which the proprietor himself was made a 
prisoner. Four of his children, who in the first moments of their panic had 
fled to places of concealment, came to implore the negro chief to liberate their 
father. This filial devotion, which was interpreted as defiance by the unfeel 
ing black, irritated him to fury. He ordered that the four young men should 
be slain separately before the eyes of their parent, who was then himself put 
to death, the last victim in this domestic tragedy. The atrocity of this action 
was even too much for Jean Fran9ois, who had already become jealous of 
Jeannot's growing ascendency. The latter affected the state and bearing of a 
monarch, never proceeding to mass but in a chariot drawn by six horses. Tlie 

y of Jean Franois was soon imbodied in action. He attacked his associ- 


ate chief and overcame him, and the monster was shot at the foot of a tree 
that had been fitted up with iron hooks upon which to hang his living victims 
by the middle of the body. Buckinan, also, the original leader in the insur 
rection, fell a sacrifice to the vengeance of the whites during this expedition of 
M. Tousard, and his head was brought into Cape Frau9ois and exposed on the 
gates of the town. 

While ruin was thus universal in the north, the mulattoes of the south were 
seizing the present conjuncture to establish their rights by force. Their leaders 
showed themselves more skillful than Oge. Instead of remaining in Port-au- 
Prince, they made their rendezvous at Croix des Bouquets, and made no de 
monstration of their design till their organization had heen made complete. 
Port-au-Prince considered itself strong enough to punish this schism, and the 
military force of the place took up their march immediately for the encamp 
ment of the mulattoes. Some detachments of cavalry from both sides had 
already met in the plain of Cul de Sac, and the advantage was clearly on the 
side of the mulattoes. On the night of the 1st of September, a body of ad 
venturers and sailors, joined to a force of two hundred troops of the line and 
a detachment of the national guard, and furnished with a small train of artil 
lery, set off from Port-au-Priuce to attack the post of Croix des Bouquets. 
They continued their march until the break of day, when they found themselves 
in the grounds of the plantation Pernier, and the fields of cane in flames on 
every side of their column. A brisk fire of musketry from an ambuscade of 
mulattoes immediately followed, and the field was strewed with killed and 
wounded. The whites were thrown into disorder, and their rout soon became 
complete. The mulattoes, with admirable tact, followed up their advantage 
by making immediate offers to negotiate, which their defeated opponents ac 
cepted without a moment's hesitation. A treaty was made, called a concordat, 
in which the whites promised to make no farther opposition to the late decree 
of the national assembly, as well as to recognize the political equality of 
mulattoes with themselves, and to secure the complete indemnification of all 
those who had suffered for political offenses, either in property, person or life. 
The mulattoes demanded that the garrison of Port-au-Prince should be com 
posed of whites and mulattoes in equal numbers that the judges who had 
condemned Oge should be consigned to infamy that the future legislature of 
the colony should be composed of members chosen conformably to the late de 
cree, and that whenever the principles of this decree were not recognized in 
the elections, both contracting parties should unite to enforce their execution. 
The discussions being all finished on the several articles of this treaty, which 
secured to the mulattoes all that they had ever demanded, it was signed on the 
23d of October, 1791. 

Meantime the war continued in the plain of Cape Frai^ois with unmitigated 
fierceness, and human blood still flowed in torrents amid the cruelty practiced 
on both sides. It was estimated that within the space of two months, more 
than two thousand whites had fallen victims to the insurrection that one 
hundred and eighty sugar plantations, and nearly nine hundred plantations of 


coffee, cotton and indigo had been laid waste, and their mills and houses con 
sumed to ashes. The negroes, in the wantonness of their fury, left nothing 
undestroyed that was not in itself indestructible. The thick walls of edifices, 
which remained standing after the fire had consumed all enclosed within them, 
were by painful manual effort razed to the ground. The iron kettles of the 
boiling houses, and the bells which called them to their labors, were crushed into 
atoms, as if to destroy from the very face of the earth all memorials of former 
servitude. Twelve hundred families, once opulent and happy, were reduced to 
utter poverty, and driven in their destitution to subsist on public charity or 
private hospitality in their own or foreign countries. More than ten thousand 
of the rebels also had perished by the sword or by famine, and many hundreds 
of them had met their fate from the hands of the public executioner. 

Meanwhile strange proceedings relative to the colonies were occurring in 
the mother country. The news of the insurrection of the blacks had not had 
time to reach Paris ; but the intelligence of the manner in which the decree of 
the 15th of May had been received by the whites in St. Domingo, had created 
great alarm. " We are afraid we have been too hasty with that decree of ours 
about the rights of the mulattoes ; it is likely, by all accounts, to occasion a 
civil war between them and the whites ; and if so, we run the risk of losing 
the colony altogether." This was the common talk of the politicians of Paris. 
Accordingly, they hastened to undo what they had done four months before, 
and on the 24th of September the national assembly actually repealed the 
decree of the 15th of May by a large majority. Thus the mother country 
and the colony were at cross purposes ; for at the very moment that the colony 
was admitting the decree, the mother country was repealing it. 

The flames of war were immediately rekindled in the colony. " The decree 
is repealed," said the whites ; " we need not have been in such a hurry in making 
concessions to the mulattoes." "The decree is repealed," said the mulattoes; 
"the people in Paris are playing false with us; we must depend on ourselves 
in future. There is no possibility of coming to terms with the whites ; either 
they must exterminate us, or we must exterminate them." 

Hostilities were renewed in the streets of Port-au-Prince. A battery of 
twenty cannons opened its fire upon the ranks of the armed mulattoes, who re 
treated from the city and gained the road to the mountains. Scarcely had 
they departed, when both the north and south portions of the city were dis 
covered to be on fire, and in an incredibly short space of time the whole city 
was wrapt in conflagration. The fire made such progress that no exertions 
could arrest it, and it continued to rage for forty-eight hours, when it began 
to abate for want of further materials to minister to its fury, and twenty-seven 
out of thirty squares of the town were utterly destroyed. 

Affright, disorder and pillage augmented the horrors of the calamity. The 
fire was of course attributed to the mulattoes ; and their wives and children, 
two thousand in number, found themselves obliged to fly, not only from thfeir 
burning habitations, but from the sword with which, in the blindness of ven 
geance, the whites were pursuing them. Driven by this two-fold terror, they 


fled to the country or rushed toward the sea shore, where, not finding boats 
enough to contain them, and in their anxiety to escape the death that was follow 
ing on their footsteps, pressing in crowds upon each other, great numbers of them 
were forced into the sea, there to find a death as dreadful as that they were 
escaping. The accusation was afterwards transferred to the merchants, who 
were charged with having recourse to this means of destroying all documents 
efad securities, as an easy method of ridding themselves from such liabilities. 
Suspicion was immediately taken for evidence, and executions followed ; the 
mercantile establishments which had escaped the fire, were given up to be pil 
laged by the mob. A simpler explanation, says Lacroix, is easy. In a town 
built entirely of wood, and upon a soil where a burning sun dries up every 
thing not endowed with life, the wadding of a single cartridge would be suf 
ficient to kindle a fire upon the roofs of houses as inflammable as tinder ; and 
that a battle could be fought in such a place without causing a conflagration 
would be a matter of astonishment. The loss has been estimated at fifty 
million francs. 

The year 1791 was concluded amid scenes of war, pestilence and bloodshed. 
The whites, collected in forts and cities, bade defiance to the insurgents. The 
mulattoes and blacks fought on the same side, sometimes under one standard, 
sometimes in separate bands. A large colony of blacks, consisting of slaves 
broken loose from the plantations, settled in the mountains under the two lead 
ers, Jean Fran9ois and Biassou. They planted provisions for their subsis 
tence, and watched for opportunities to make irruptions into the plains. 

The national assembly had sent three commissioners to the island to restore 
peace and subordination to the distracted colony. At the time of their depar 
ture they had not been informed of the slave insurrection, nor the vast extent 
of the calamity that was then desolating the country. On their arrival, the 
commissioners were struck with horror and astonishment at what they saw. 
At Cape Fran9ois they found two wheels and five gibbets in constant employ, 
to execute the numerous victims that were daily adjudged to death. Horror 
and loathing made them insensible to the civilities which were proffered them, 
and despairing of effecting any beneficial measure, they returned to France. 
Meanwhile the revolution in the mother country was proceeding ; the republi 
can party and the Amis des Noirs were rising into power ; and on the 4th of 
April, 1792, a new decree was passed, declaring more emphatically than before 
the rights of the people of color, and appointing three new commissioners, who 
were to proceed to St. Domingo and exercise sovereign power in the colony. 
These commissioners arrived on the 13th of September, dissolved the colonial 
assembly and sent the governor, M. Blanchelande, home to be guillotined. 
With great appearance of activity, the commissioners commenced their duties ; 
and as the mother country was too busy about its own affairs to attend to their 
proceedings, they acted as they pleased, and contrived, out of the general 
wreck, to amass large sums of money for their own use ; till at length, in the 
beginning of 1793, the revolutionary government at home, having a little mnr<; 
leisure to attend to colonial affairs, revoked the powers of the commissioners, 


and appointed a new governor, M. Galbaud. When M. Galbaud arrived in 
the island, there ensued a struggle between him and the commissioners, he 
being empowered to supersede them, and they refusing to submit. At length 
the commissioners calling in the assistance of the revolted negroes, M. Galbaud 
was expelled from the island, and forced to take refuge in the United States. 
While this strange struggle for the governorship of the colony lasted, the con 
dition of the colony itself was growing worse and worse. The plantations re 
mained uncultivated, the whites and the mulattoes were still at war, masses of 
savage negroes were quartered in the hills, in fastnesses from which they could 
not be dislodged, and from which they could rush down unexpectedly to com 
mit outrages in the plains. 

In daily jeopardy of their lives, and seeing no prospect of a return of pros 
perity, immense numbers of the white colonists were quitting the island. Many 
families had emigrated to the neighboring island of Jamaica, many to the 
United States, and some even had sought refuge, like the royalists of the mother 
country, in Great Britain. Through these persons, as well as through the refu 
gees from the mother country, overtures had been made to the British govern 
ment for the purpose of inducing it to take possession of the island of St. 
Domingo and convert it into a British colony; and in 1793, the British gov 
ernment, against which the French republic had now declared war, began to 
listen favorably to the proposals. General Williamson, the lieutenant-governor 
of Jamaica, was instructed to send troops from that island to St. Domingo, 
and attempt to wrest it out of the hands of the French. Accordingly, on the 
20th of September, 1793, about 870 British soldiers, under Colonel Whitelocke, 
landed in St. Domingo a force miserably defective for such an enterprise. The 
number of troops was afteward increased, and the British were able to effect 
the capture of Port-au-Prince, and also some ships which were in the harbor. 
Alarmed by this success, the French commissioners, Santhonax and Polverel, 
issued a decree abolishing negro slavery, at the same time inviting the blacks 
to join them against the British invaders. Several thousand did so ; but the 
great majority fled to the hills, swelling the army of the negro chiefs, Fran9ois 
and Biassou, and luxuriating in the liberty which they had so suddenly acquired. 

It was at this moment of utter confusion and disorganization, when British, 
French, mulattoes, and blacks, were all acting their respective parts in the tur 
moil, and all inextricably intermingled in a bewildering war, which was neither 
a foreign war nor a civil war, nor a war of races, bnt a composition of all 
three it was at this moment that Toussaint L'Ouverture appeared the spirit 
and the ruler of the storm. 

He was one of the most extraordinary men of a period when extraordinary 
men were numerous, and beyond all question, the highest specimen of negro 
genius the world has yet seen. He was born in St. Domingo, on the plantation 
of the count de Noe", a few miles distant from Cape Fran^'ois, in the year 1743. 
His father and mother were African slaves on the count's estate. On the plan 
tation there was a black of the name of Pierre-Baptiste, a shrewd, intelligent 
man, who had acquired much information, besides having been taught the ele- 


ments of what would be termed a plain education by some benevolent mission 
aries. Between Pierre and young Toussaint an intimacy sprung up, and all 
that Pierre had learned from the missionaries, Toussaint learned from him. 
His acquisitions, says our French authority, amounted to reading, writing, 
arithmetic, a little Latin, and an idea of geometry. It was a fortunate cir 
cumstance that the greatest natural genius among the negroes of St. Domingo 
was thus singled out to receive the unusual gift of a little instruction. Tous- 
saint's qualifications gained him promotion ; he was made the coachman of 
M. Bayou, the overseer of the count de Noe a situation as high as a negro 
could hope to fill. In this, and in other still higher situations to which he was 
subsequently advanced, his conduct was irreproachable, so that while he gained 
the confidence of his master, every negro in the plantation held him in respect. 
Three particulars are authentically known respecting his character at this pe 
riod of his life, and it is somewhat remarkable that all are points more pecu 
liarly of moral than of intellectual superiority. He was noted, it is said, foi 
an exceedingly patient temper, for great affection for brute animals, and for a 
strong, unswerving attachment to one female whom he had chosen for his wife. 
It is also said that he manifested singular strength of religious sentiment. In 
person, he was above the middle size, with a striking countenance, and a robust 
constitution, capable of enduring any amount of fatigue, and requiring little 

Toussaint was about forty-eight years of age when the insurrection of the 
blacks took place in August, It 91. Great exertions were made by the insur 
gents to induce a negro of his respectability and reputation to join them in 
their first outbreak, but he steadily refused. It is also known that it was owing 
to Toussaint's care and ingenuity that his master, M. Bayou, and his family 
escaped being massacred. He hid them in the woods for several days, visited 
them at the risk of his own life, secured the means of their escape from the 
island, and, after they were settled in the United States, sent them such remit 
tances as he could manage to snatch from the wreck of their property. Such 
conduct, in the midst of such barbarities as were then enacting, indicates great 
originality and moral independence of character. After his master's escape, 
Toussaint, who had no tie to retain him longer in servitude, and who, besides, 
saw reason and justice in the struggle which his race was making for liberty, 
attached himself to the bands of negroes then occupying the hills, commanded 
by Fra^ois and Biassou. In the negro army Toussaint at once assumed a 
leading rank ; and a certain amount of medical knowledge, which he had picked 
up in the course of his reading, enabled him to unite the functions of army 
physician with those of military officer. Such was Toussaint's position in the 
end of the year 1793, when the British landed in the island. 

It is necessary here to describe, as exactly as the confusion will permit, the 
true state of parties in the island. The British, as we already know, were 
attempting to take the colony out of the hands of the French republic, and 
annex it to the crown of Great Britain ; and in this design they wore favored 
by the few French royalists still resident in the island. The French conimis- 


sioners, SaLthonax and Polverel, on the other hand, men of the republican 
school, were attempting, with a motley army of French, mulattoes and blacks, 
to beat back the British. The greater part of the mulattoes of the island, 
grateful for the exertions which the republicans and the Amis des Noirs had 
made on their behalf, attached themselves to the side of the commissioners 
and the republic which they represented. It may naturally be supposed that 
the blacks would attach themselves to the same party to the party of those 
whose watchwords were liberty and equality, and who consequently were the 
sworn enemies of slavery ; but such was not the case. Considerable numbers 
of the negroes, it is true, were gained over to the cause of the French repub 
lic by the manifesto the commissioners had published abolishing slavery ; but 
the bulk of them kept aloof, and constituted a separate negro army. Strangely 
enough, this army declared itself anti-republican. Before the death of Louis 
XVI., the blacks had come to entertain a strong sympathy with the king, 
and a violent dislike to the republicans. This may have been owing either to 
the policy of their leaders, Fran9ois and Biassou, or to the simple fact that the 
blacks had suffered much at the hands of republican whites. At all events, the 
negro armies called themselves the armies of the king while he was alive ; and 
after he was dead, they refused to consider themselves subjects of the republic. 
In these circumstances, one would at first be apt to fancy they would side with 
the British when they landed on the island. But it must be remembered that, 
along with the blind and unintelligent royalism of the negroes, they were ani 
mated by a far stronger and far more real feeling, namely, the desire of free 
dom and the horror of again being subjected to slavery ; and this would very 
effectually prevent their assisting the British. If they did so, they would be 
only changing their masters ; St. Domingo would become a British colony, 
and they, like the negroes of Jamaica, would become slaves of British planters. 
No, it was liberty they wanted, and the British would not give them that 
They hung aloof, therefore, not acting consistently with the French, much less 
with the British, but watching the course of events, and ready, at any given 
moment, to precipitate themselves into the contest and strike a blow for negro 

The negroes, however, in the meantime had the fancy to call themselves roy 
alists, Fran9ois having assumed the title of grand admiral of France, and Bi- 
.issou that of generalissimo of the conquered districts. Toussaint held a mili 
tary command under them, and acted also as army physician. Every day his 
influence over the negroes was extending ; and Fran9ois became so envious of 
Toussaint's growing reputation as to cast him into prison, apparently with the 
further purpose of destroying him. Toussaint, however, was released by Bi 
assou, who, although described as a monster of cruelty, appears to have had 
some sparks of generous feeling. Shortly after this, Biassou's drunken ferocity 
rendered it necessary to deprive him of all command, and Fran9ois and Tous 
saint became joint leaders, Toussaint acting in the capacity of lieutenant-gen 
eral, and Fran9ois in that of general-in-chief. The negro army at this time 
judged it expedient to enter the service of Spain, acting in cooperation with 


the governor of the Spanish colony in the other end of the island, who had 
been directed by his government at home to carry on war against the French 
commissioners. Toussaint was for some time an officer in the Spanish service, 
acting under the directions of Joachim Garcia, the president of the Spanish 
colonial council. In this capacity he distinguished himself greatly. With 
600 men, he beat a body of 1500 French out of a strong post which they had 
occupied near the Spanish town of St. Raphael; and afterwards he took in 
succession the villages of Marmelade, Henneri, Plaisance, and Gonaives. He 
was appointed lieutenant-general of the army, and presented at the same time 
with a sword and a badge of honor in the name of his Catholic majesty. But 
the Marquis D'Hermona having been succeeded in the command by another, 
Toussaint began to find his services less appreciated. His old rival, Frai^ois, 
did his best to undermine his influence among the Spaniards ; nay, it is said, 
laid a plot for his assassination, which Toussaint narrowly escaped. He had 
to complain also of the bad treatment which certain French officers, who had 
surrendered to him, and whom he had persuaded to accept a command under 
him, had received at the hands of the Spaniards. All these circumstances op 
erated on the mind of Toussaint, and shook the principles on which he had 
hitherto acted. While hesitating with respect to his next movements, intelli 
gence of the decree of the French convention of the 4th of February, 1794, 
by which the abolition of negro slavery was confirmed, reached St. Domingo ; 
and this immediately decided the step he should take. Quitting the Spanish 
service, he joined the French general Laveaux, who the commissioners San- 
thonax and Polverel having been recalled was now invested with the sole 
governorship of the colony ; took the oath of fidelity to the French republic ; 
and being elevated to the rank of brigadier-general, assisted Laveaux in his 
efforts to drive the English troops out of the island. 

In his new capacity, Toussaint was no less successful than he had been while 
lighting under the Spanish colors. In many engagements, both with the Brit 
ish and the Spaniards, he rendered signal services to the cause of the French. 
At first, however, the French commander Laveaux showed little disposition to 
place confidence in him. It is highly creditable, therefore, to this French offi 
cer, that when he came to have more experience of Toussaint L'Ouverture, he 
discerned his extraordinary abilities, and esteemed him as much as if he had 
been a French gentleman educated in the schools of Paris. The immediate 
occasion of the change of the sentiments of Laveaux towards Toussaint was 
as follows : In the month of March, 1795, an insurrection of mulattoes oc 
curred at the town of the Cape, and Laveaux was seized and placed in confine 
ment. On hearing this, Toussaint marched at the head of 10,000 blacks to 
the town, obliged the inhabitants to open the gates by the threat of a siege, 
entered in triumph, released the French commander, and reinstated him in his 
office. In gratitude for this act of loyalty, Laveaux appointed Toussaint lieu 
tenant-governor of the colony, declaring his resolution at the same time to act 
by his advice in all matters, whether military or civil a resolution the wisdom 
of which will appear when we reflect that Toussaint was the only man in the 


island who could govern the blacks. A saying of Laveaux is also recorded, 
which shows what a decided opinion he had formed of Toussaint's abilities : 
" It is this black," said he, " this Spartacus, predicted by Ilaynal, who is des 
tined to avenge the wrongs done to his race." 

A wonderful improvement soon followed the appointment of L'Ouverture as 
lieutenant-governor of the colony. The blacks, obedient to their champion, 
were reduced under strict military discipline, and submitted to all the regula 
tions of orderly civil government. 

Since the departure of the commissioners Santhonax and Polverel, the whole- 
authority of the colony, both civil and military, had been in the hands of La 
veaux ; but in the end of the year It 95, a new commission arrived from the 
mother country. At the head of this commission was Santhonax, and his col 
leagues were Giraud, Raymond, and Leblanc. The new commissioners, ac 
cording to their instructions, overwhelmed Toussaint with thanks and compli 
ments ; told him he had made the French republic his everlasting debtor, and 
encouraged him to persevere in his efforts to rid the island of the British. 
Shortly afterwards, Laveaux, being nominated a member of the legislature, 
was obliged to return to France ; and in the month of April, 1796, Toussaint 
L'Ouverture was appointed his successor, as commander-in-chief of the French 
forces in St. Domingo. Thus, by a remarkable succession of circumstances, 
was this negro, at the age of fifty-three years, fifty of which had been passed 
in a state of slavery, placed in the most important position in the island. 

Toussaint now began to see his way more clearly, and to become conscious 
of the duty which Providence had assigned him. Taking all things into con 
sideration, he resolved on being no longer a tool of foreign governments, but 
to strike a grand blow for the permanent independence of his race. To ac 
complish this object, he felt that it was necessary to assume and retain, at lea^t 
for a time, the supreme civil as well as military command. Immediately, there 
fore, on becoming commander-in-chief in St. Domingo, he adopted measures 
for removing all obstructions to the exercise of his authority. General Ro- 
chambcau had been sent from France with a military command similar to that 
which Laveaux had held ; but finding himself a mere cipher, he became un 
ruly, and Toussaint instantly sent him home. Santhonax, the commissioner, 
too, was an obstacle in the way ; and Toussaint, after taking the precaution of 
ascertaining that he would be able to enforce obedience, got rid of him by the 
delicate pretext of making him the bearer of dispatches to the Directory 
Along with Santhonax, several other officious personages were sent to France; 
the only person of any official consequence who was retained being the com 
missioner Raymond, who was a mulatto, and might be useful. As these meas 
ures, however, might draw down the vengeance of the Directory, if not accom 
panied by some proofs of good-will to France, Toussaint sent two of his sons 
to Paris to be educated, assuring the Directory at the same time that, in re 
moving Santhonax and his coadjutors, he had been acting for the best interests 
of the colony. "I guarantee," he wrote to the Directory, "on my own per 
sonal responsibility, the orderly behavior and the good-will to France of my 


brethren the blacks. You may depend, citizen directors, on happy results ; 
and you shall soon see whether I engage in vain my credit and your hopes." 

The people of Paris received with a generous astonishment the intelligence 
of the doings of the negro prodigy, and the interest they took in the novelty 
of the case prevented them from being angry. The Directory, however, judged 
it prudent to send out General Hedouville, an able and moderate man, to su 
perintend Toussaint's proceedings, and restrain his boldness. 

The evacuation of St. Domingo by the English in 1798, did not remove all 
Toussaint's difficulties. The mulattoes, influenced partly by a rumor that the 
French Directory meditated the reestablishment of the exploded distinction of 
color, partly by a jealous dislike to the ascendency which a pure negro had 
gained in the colony, rose in insurrection under the leadership of Rigaud and 
Petion, two able and educated mulattoes. The insurrection was formidable ; 
but, by a judicious mingling of severity with caution, Toussaint quelled it, re 
ducing Rigaud and Petion to extremities ; and the arrival of a deputation from 
France in the year 1799, bringing a confirmation of his authority as comman- 
der-in-chief in St. Domingo by the man who, under the title of first consul, 
had superseded the Directory, and now swayed the destinies of France, ren 
dered his triumph complete. Petion and Rigaud, deserted by their adherents, 
and despairing of any further attempt to shake Toussaint's power, embarked 
for France. 

Confirmed by Bonaparte in the powers which he had for some time been 
wielding in the colony with such good effect, Toussaint now paid exclusive at 
tention to the internal affairs of the island. In the words of a French biog 
rapher, " he laid the foundation of a new state with the foresight of a mind 
that could discern what would decay and what would endure. St. Domingo 
rose from its ashes ; the reign of law and justice was established ; those who 
had been slaves were now citizens. Religion again reared her altars ; and on 
the sites of ruins were built new edifices." Certain interesting particulars are 
also recorded, which give us a better idea of his habits and the nature of his 
government than these general descriptions. To establish discipline among his 
black troops, he gave all his superior officers the power of life and death over 
the subalterns : every superior officer "commanded with a pistol in his hand." 
In all cases where the original possessors of estates which had fallen vacant in 
the course of the troubles of the past nine years could be traced, they were in 
vited to return and resume their property. Toussaint's great aim was to ac 
custom the negroes to industrial habits. It was only by diligent agriculture, 
he said, that the blacks could ever raise themselves. Accordingly, while every 
trace of personal slavery was abolished, he took means to compel the negroes 
to work as diligently as ever they had done under the whip of their overseers. 
All those plantations the proprietors of which did not reappear, were lotted 
out among the negroes, who, as a remuneration for their labor, received one- 
third of the produce, the rest going to the public revenue. There were as yet 
no civil or police courts which could punish idleness or vagrancy, but the same 
purpose was served by courts-martial. The ports of the island were opened 


to foreign vessels, and every encouragement held out to traffic. In consequence 
of these arrangements, a most surprising change took place : the plantations 
were again covered with crops ; the sugar-houses and distilleries were re-built ; 
the export trade began to revive ; and the population, orderly and well-behaved, 
began to increase. In addition to these external evidences of good govern 
ment, the island exhibited those finer evidences which consist in mental culture 
and the civilization of manners. Schools were established, and books became 
common articles in the cottages of the negro laborers. Music and the theatr 
were encouraged ; and public worship was conducted with all the usual pomp 
of the Romish church. The whites, the mulattoes, and the blacks mingled in 
the same society, and exchanged with each other all the courtesies of civilized 
intercourse. The commander-in-chief himself set the example by holding pub 
lic levees, at which, surrounded by his officers, he received the visits of the 
principal colonists ; and his private parties, it is said, " might have vied with 
the best regulated societies of Paris." 

Successful in all his schemes of improvement, Toussaint had only one serious 
cause for dread. While he admired, and, it may be, imitated Napeoleon Bo 
naparte, he entertained a secret fear of the projects of that great general. Al 
though Bonaparte, as first consul, had confirmed him in his command, several 
circumstances had occurred to excite alarm. He had sent two letters to Bo 
naparte, both headed, " The First of the Blacks to the First of the Whites," 
one of which announced the complete pacification of the island, and requested 
the ratification of certain appointments which he had made, and the other ex 
plained his reasons for cashiering a French official ; bat to these letters Bona 
parte had not deigned to return an answer. Moreover, the representatives 
from St. Domingo had been excluded from the French senate ; and rumors had 
reached the island that the first consul meditated the reestablishment of slavery. 
Toussaint thought it advisable in this state of matters to be beforehand with 
the French consul in forming a constitution for the island, to supersede the mil 
itary government with which it had hitherto been content. A draft of a con 
stitution was accordingly drawn up by his directions, and with the assistance 
of the ablest Frenchmen in the island ; and after being submitted to an assem 
bly of representatives from all parts of St. Domingo, it was formally published 
on the 1st of July, 1801 By this constitution, the whole executive of the 
island, with the command of the forces, was to be intrusted to a governor-gen 
eral. Toussaint was appointed governor-general for life ; his successors were 
to hold office for five years each ; and he was to have the power of nominating 
the first of them. Various other provisions were contained in the constitu 
tion, and its general effect was to give St. Domingo a virtual independence, 
under the guardianship of France. 

Not disheartened by the taciturnity of Bonaparte, Toussaint again addressed 
him in respectful terms, and intreated his ratification of the new constitution. 
The first consul, however, had already formed the resolution of extinguishing 
Toussaint and taking possession of St. Domingo ; and the conclusion of a 
treaty of peace with England (1st October, 1801,) increased his haste to effec* 


the execution of his deceitful purpose. The expedition was equipped. It 
consisted of twenty-six ships of war and a number of transports, carrying an 
army of 25,000 men, the flower of the French troops, who embarked reluctant 
ly. The command of the army was given to General Leclerc, the husband of 
Pauline Bonaparte, the consul's sister. 

The French squadron reached St. Domingo on the 29th of January, 1802. 
"We are lost," said Toussaint, when he saw the ships approach; "all France 
is coming to St. Domingo." The invading army was divided into four bodies. 
General Kervesau, with one, was to take possession of the Spanish town of 
St. Domingo; General Rochambeau, with another, was to inarch on Fort. 
Dauphin ; General Boudet, with a third, on Port-au-Prince ; and Leclerc 
himself, with the remainder, on Cape Frai^ois. In all quarters the French 
were successful in effecting a landing. Rochambeau, in landing with his divis 
ion, came to an engagement with the blacks who had gathered on the beach, 
and slaughtered a great number of them. At Cape Francois, Leclerc sent an 
intimidating message to Christophe, the negro whom Toussaint had stationed 
there as commander ; but the negro replied that he was responsible only to 
Toussaint, his commander-in-chief. Perceiving, however, that his post was 
untenable, owing to the inclination of the white inhabitants of the town to 
admit Leclerc, Christophe set fire to the houses at night, and retreated to the 
hills by the light of the conflagration, carrying 2000 whites with him as 

Although the French had effected a landing, the object of the invasion was 
yet far from being attained. Toussaint and the blacks had retired to the inte 
rior, and in fastnesses where no military force could reach them, they were 
preparing for future attacks. 

The correspondence which Toussaint entered into with Leclerc produced no 
good result, and the war began in earnest, Toussaint and Christophe were 
declared outlaws, and battle after battle was fought with varying success. The 
mountainous nature of the interior greatly impeded the progress of the French. 
The Alps themselves, Leclerc said, were not nearly so troublesome to a mili 
tary man as the hills of St Domingo. On the whole, however, the advantage 
was decidedly on the side of the French ; and the blacks were driven by de 
grees out of their principal positions. The success of the French was not 
entirely the consequence of their military skill and valor ; it was partly owing 
also to the effect which the proclamations of Leclerc had on the minds of the 
negroes and their commanders. If they were to enjoy the perfect liberty 
which these proclamations promised them, if they were to continue free 
men as they were now, what mattered it whether the French were in pos 
session of the island or not ? Such was the general feeling ; and accordingly 
many of Toussaint's most eminent officers, among whom were Laplume and 
Maurepas, went over to the French. Deserted thus by many of his officers 
and by the great mass of the negro population, Toussaint, supported by his 
two bravest and ablest generals, Dessalines and Christophe, still held out, and 
protracted the war. Dessalines, besieged in the fort of Crete a Pierrot by 


Leclerc and nearly the whole of the French army, did not give up the defense 
until he had caused the loss to his besiegers of about 3000 men, including sev 
eral distinguished officers ; and even then, rushing out, he fought his way 
through the enemy, and made good his retreat. 

The reduction of the fortress of Crete a Pierrot was considered decisive of 
the fate of the war ; and Leclerc, deeming dissimulation no longer necessary, 
permitted many negroes to be massacred, and issued an order virtually rees 
tablishing the power of the old French colonists over their slaves. This rash 
step opened the eyes of the negroes who had joined the French ; they deserted 
in masses ; Toussaint was again at the head of an army : and Leclerc was in 
danger of losing all the fruits of his past labors, and being obliged to begin 
his enterprise over again. This was a very disagreeable prospect; for 
although strong reinforcements were arriving from France, the disorders inci 
dent to military life in a new climate were making large incisions into his 
army. He resolved, therefore, to fall back on his former policy ; and on the 
25th of April, 1802, he issued a proclamation directly opposite in its spirit to 
his former order, asserting the equality of the various races, and holding out 
the prospect of full citizenship to the blacks. The negroes were again de 
ceived, and again deserted Toussaint, Christophe, too, despairing of any 
farther success against the French, entered into negotiation with Leclerc, 
securing as honorable terms as could be desired. The example of Christophe 
was imitated by Dessalines, and by Paul L'Ouverture, Toussaint's brother. 
Toussaint, thus left alone, was obliged to submit ; and Christophe, in securing 
good terms for himself, had not neglected the opportunity of obtaining similar 
advantages for his commander-in-chief. On the 1st of May, 1802, a treaty 
was concluded between Leclerc and Toussaint L'Ouverture, the conditions of 
which were, that Toussaint should continue to govern St. Domingo as hitherto, 
Leclerc acting only in the capacity of French deputy, and that all the officers 
in Toussaint's army should be allowed to retain their respective ranks. " I 
swear," added Leclerc, "before the Supreme Being, to respect the liberty of 
the people of St. Domingo." Thus the war appeared to have reached a happy 
close ; the whites and blacks mingled with each other once more as friends ; 
and Toussaint retired to one of his estates near Gondives, to lead a life of quiet 
domestic enjoyment. 

The instructions of the first consul, however, had been precise, that the ne 
gro chief should be sent as a prisoner to France. Many reasons recommended 
such a step as more likely than any other to break the spirit of independence 
among the blacks, and rivet the French power on the island. The expedition 
had been one of the most disastrous that France had ever undertaken. A 
pestilence resembling the yellow fever, but more fatal and terrible than even 
that dreadful distemper, had swept many thousands of the French to their graves. 
"What with the ravages of the plague, and the losses in war, it was calculated 
that 30,000 men, 1,500 officers of various ranks, among whom were fourteen 
generals, and 700 physicians and surgeons, perished in the expedition. 

It is our melancholy duty now to record one of the blackest acts committed 


by Napoleon. Agreeably to his orders, the person of Toussaint was treacher 
ously arrested, while residing peacefully in his house near Gonaives. Two ne 
gro chiefs who endeavored to rescue him were killed on the spot, and a large num 
ber of his friends were at the same time made prisoners. The fate of many 
of these was never known ; but Toussaint himself, his wife, and all his family, 
were carried at midnight on board the Hero man-of-war, then in the harbor, 
which immediately set sail for France. After a short passage of twenty-five 
days, the vessel arrived at Brest (June 1802); and here Toussaint took his 
last leave of his wife and family. They were sent to Bayonne ; but by the 
orders of the first consul, he was carried to the chateau of Joux, in the east of 
France, among the Jura mountains. Placed in this bleak and dismal region, 
so different from the tropical climate to which he had been accustomed, his suffer 
ings may easily be imagined. Not satisfied, however, with confining his un 
happy prisoner to the fortress generally, Bonaparte enjoined that he should be 
secluded in a dungeon, and denied anything beyond the plainest necessaries of 
existence. For the first few months of his captivity, Toussaint was allowed 
to be attended by a faithful negro servant ; but at length this single attendant 
was removed, and he was left alone in his misery and despair. It appears a 
rumor had gone abroad that Toussaint, during the war in St. Domingo, had 
buried a large amount of treasure in the earth ; and during his captivity at 
Joux, an officer was sent by the first consul to interrogate him respecting the 
place where he had concealed it. " The treasures I have lost," said Toussaint, 
"are not those which you seek." After an imprisonment of ten months he 
was found dead in his dungeon on the 27th of April, 1803. He was sitting 
at the side of the fire-place, with his hands resting on his legs, and his head 
drooping. The account given at the time was, that he had died of apoplexy ; 
but some authors have not hesitated to ascribe it to less natural circumstances. 
" The governor of the fort," observes one French writer, " made two excur 
sions to Neufchatel, in Switzerland. The first time, he left the keys of the 
dungeons with a captain whom he chose to act for him during his absence. 
The captain accordingly had occasion to visit Toussaint, who conversed with 
him about his past life, and expressed his indignation at the design imputed to 
him by the first consul, of having wished to betray St. Domingo to the Eng 
lish. As Toussaint, reduced to a scanty farinaceous diet, suffered greatly from 
the want of coffee, to which he had been accustomed, the captain generously 
procured it for him. The first absence of the governor of the fort, however, 
was only an experiment. It was not long before he left the fort again, and 
this time said, with a mysterious, unquiet air to the captain, ' I leave you in 
charge of the fort, but I do not give you the keys of the dungeons ; the pris 
oners do not require anything.' Four days after he returned, and Toussaint 
was dead starved." According to another account, this miserable victim of 
despotism, and against whom there was no formal or reasonable charge, was 
poisoned ; but this rests on no credible testimony, and there is reason to believe 
that Toussaint died a victim only to the severities of confinement in this inhos- 

* * 


pitable prison. This melancholy termination to his sufferings took place when 
he was sixty years of age. 

The forcible suppression of Toussaint's government, and his treacherous re 
moval from the island, did not prove a happy stroke of policy ; and it would 
have been preferable for France to have at once established the independence 
of St. Domingo, than to have entered on the project of resuming it as a de 
pendency on the old terms. Leclerc, with all the force committed to his care 
by Bonaparte, signally failed in his designs. The contemptuous and cruel 
manner in which the blacks were generally treated, and the attempts made to 
restore them as a class to slavery, provoked a wide-spread insurrection. Tous- 
sant's old friends and generals, Dessalines, Christophe, Clerveaux, and others, 
rose in arms. Battle after battle was fought, and all the resources of Euro 
pean military skill were opposed to the furious onsets of the negro masses. 
All was in vain : before October, the negroes, under the command of Dessa 
lines and Christophe, had driven the French out of Fort Dauphin, Port de 
Paix, and other important positions. In the midst of these calamities, that 
is, on the 1st of November, 1802, Leclerc died, and Pauline Bonaparte re 
turned to France with his body. Leclerc was succeeded in the command by 
Rochambeau, a determined enemy of the blacks. Cruelties such as Leclerc 
shrunk from were now employed to assist the French arms ; unoffending negroes 
were slaughtered ; and bloodhounds were imported from Cuba to chase the ne 
gro fugitives through the forests. Rochambeau, however, had a person to deal 
with who was capable of repaying cruelty with cruelty. Dessalines, who had 
assumed the chief command of the insurgents, was a man who, to great mili 
tary talents and great personal courage, added a ferocious and sanguinary dis 
position. Hearing that Rochambeau had ordered 500 blacks to be shot at 
the Cape, he selected 500 French officers and soldiers from among his prison 
ers, and had them shot by way of reprisal. To complete the miseries of the 
French, the mulattoes of the south now joined the insurrection, and the war 
between France and England having recommenced, the island was blockaded 
by English ships, and provisions began to fail. In this desperate condition, 
after demanding assistance from the mother country, which could not be grant 
ed, Rochambeau negotiated with the negroes and the English for the evacua 
tion of the island ; and towards the end of November, 1803, all the French 
troops left St. Domingo. 

On the departure of the French, Dessalines, Christophe, and the other gen 
erals proclaimed the independence of the island " in the name of the blacks 
and the people of color." At the same time they invited the return of all 
whites who had taken no part in the war ; but, added they, " if any of those 
who imagined they would restore slavery return hither, they shall meet with 
nothing but chains and deportation." On the first of January, 1804, at an 
assembly of the generals and chiefs of the army, the independence of the 
island was again solemnly declared, and all present bound themselves by an 
oath to defend it. At the same time, to mark their formal renunciation of 
all connection with France, it was resolved that the name of the island be 


changed from St. Domingo to Hayti, the name given to it by its original In 
dian inhabitants. Jean Jacques Dessalines was appointed governor-general 
for life, with the privilege of nominating his successor. 

The rule of Dessalines was a sanguinary, but, on the whole, a salutary one. 
He began his government by a treacherous massacre of nearly all the French 
who remained in the island trusting to his false promises of protection. All 
other Europeans, however, except the French, were treated with respect. 
Dessalines encouraged the importation of Africans into Hayti, saying that 
since they were torn from their country, it was certainly better that they should 
be employed to recruit the strength of a rising nation of blacks, than to serve 
the whites of all countries as slaves. On the 8th of October, 1804, Dessa 
lines exchanged his plain title of governor-general for the more pompous one 
of emperor. He was solemnly inaugurated under the name of James I., em 
peror of Hayti ; and the ceremony of his coronation was accompanied by the 
proclamation of a new constitution, the main provisions of which were exceed 
ingly judicious. All Haytian subjects, of whatever color, were to be called 
blacks, entire religious toleration was decreed, schools were established, pub 
lic worship encouraged, and measures adopted similar to those which Toussaint 
had employed for creating and fostering an industrial spirit among the negroes. 
As a preparation for any future war, the interior of the island was extensively 
planted with yams, bananas, and other articles of food, and many forts built 
in advantageous situations. Under these regulations the island again began 
to show symptoms of prosperity. Dessalines was a man in many respects 
fitted to be the first sovereign of a people rising out of barbarism. Born the 
slave of a negro mechanic, he was quite illiterate, but had great natural abil 
ities, united to a very ferocious temper. His wife was one of the most beau 
tiful and best educated negro women in Hayti. A pleasant trait of his char 
acter is his seeking out his old master after he became emperor, and majdng 
him his butler. It was, he said, exactly the situation the old man wished to 
fill, as it afforded him the means of being always drunk. Dessalines himself 
drank nothing but water. For two years this negro continued to govern the 
island ; but at length his ferocity provoked his mulatto subjects to form a con 
spiracy against him, and on the 17th of October, T806, he was assassinated by 
the soldiers of Petion, who was his third in command. 

On the death of Dessalines, a schism took place in the island. Christophe, 
who had been second in command, assumed the government of the northern 
division of the island, the capital of which was Cape Fran9ois ; and Petion, 
the mulatto general, assumed the government of the southern division, the 
capital of which was Port-au-Prince. For several years a war was carried on 
between the two rivals, each endeavoring to depose the other, and become 
chief of the whole of Hayti ; but at length hostilities ceased, and by a tacit 
agreement, Petion came to be regarded as legitimate governor of the south 
and west, where the mulattoes were most numerous ; and Christophe as legit 
imate governor in the north, where the population consisted chiefly of blacks. 
Christophe, trained, like Dessalines, in the school of Toussaiiit L'Ouverture 


was a slave born, and an able as well as a benevolent man ; but, like most of 
the negroes who had arrived at his period of life, he had not had the benefit 
of any systematic education. Petion, on the other hand, had been educated 
in the military academy of Paris, and was accordingly as accomplished and 
well-instructed as any European officer. The title with which Petion was in 
vested, was that of president of the republic of Hayti; the southern and 
western districts preferring the republican form of government. For some 
time Christophe bore the simple title of chief magistrate, and was in all re 
spects the president of a republic like Petion ; but the blacks have always 
shown a liking for the monarchical form of government ; and accordingly, on 
the 2d of June, 1811, Christophe, by the desire of his subjects, assumed the 
regal title of Henry I., king of Hayti. The coronation was celebrated in the 
most gorgeous manner ; and at the same time the creation of an aristocracy 
took place, the first act of the new sovereign being to name four princes, seven 
dukes, twenty-two counts, thirty barons, and ten knights. 

Both parts of the island were well governed, and rapidly advanced in pros 
perity and civilization. On the restoration of the Bourbons to the French 
throne, some hope seems to have been entertained in France that it might be 
possible yet to obtain a footing in the island, and commissioners were sent out 
to collect information respecting its condition ; but the conduct both of Chris 
tophe and Petion was so firm, that the impossibility of subverting the inde 
pendence of Hayti became manifest. The island was therefore left in the 
undisturbed possession of the blacks and mulattoes. In 1818 Petion died, 
and was succeeded by General Boyer, a mulatto who had been in France, and 
had accompanied Leclerc in his expedition. In 1820, Christophe having 
become involved in differences with his subjects, shot himself; and the two 
parts of the island were then reunited under the general name of the republic 
of Hayti, General Boyer being the first president. In the following year, the 
Spanish portion of the island, which for a long time had been in a languishing 
condition, voluntarily placed itself under the government of Boyer, who thus 
became the head of a republic including the entire island of St. Domingo. In 
1825, a treaty was concluded between President Boyer and Charles X. of 
France, by which France acknowledged the independence of Hayti, in consid- 
ertion of 150 millions of francs (6,000,000 sterling,) to be paid by the island 
in five annual instalments, as a compensation for the losses sustained by the 
French colonists during the revolution. The first instalment was paid in 1836; 
but as it was found impossible to pay the remainder, the terms of the agree 
ment were changed in 1838, and France consented to accept 60 millions of 
f.-ancs (2,400,000,) to be liquidated in six instalments before the year 186Y 

As the engagements which Boyer had entered into with the French in 
creased the taxation and bore hard upon the population, an insurrection broke 
wt against his authority in May, 1838. This was suppressed, but was fol 
lowed by repeated collisions between the president and the representative body. 
fn 1842 a revolution broke out and President Boyer was compelled to flee to 
Jamaica; and in 1844 the inhabitants of the Spanish portion rose, overpow- 


ered their Haytian oppressors, and formed themselves into a republic, under 
the name of Santo Domingo. After various individuals had, for a short 
period, occupied the presidential chair of the Haytian republic, the election 
fell upon General Soulouque, who, in 1849, made an unsuccessful attempt to 
subjugate the Dominican republic. In the latter part of the same year, how 
ever, he ascended the throne of the Haytian republic, under the title of Em 
peror Faustin I. The independence of the Dominican republic was virtually 
recognized by Great Britain, by the appointment of a consul to it, in 1849 ; 
and it was formally recognized by a treaty of amity and commerce, ratified 
September 10, 1850. It has also been recognized by France and Denmark ; 
but the Emperor Faustin I. (Soulouque) still refused to recognize its inde 

The present population of the whole island is estimated at 950,000. The 
effective force of the Haytian army is estimated at 40,000 men, and that of the 
navy 15 small vessels and 1000 men. Hayti now possesses an established 
system of government, an established system of education, a literature, com 
merce, manufactures, a rich and cultivated class in society. In the short space 
of half a century, it has raised itself from the depths and degradation of ser 
vitude to the condition of a flourishing and respectable state. Slavery has 
been eradicated in the new world from the very spot of its origin. 



State of the slave-trade since its nominal abolition. Numbers imported and losses ou 
the passage. Increased horrors of the trade. Scenes on board a captured slaver in 
Sierra Leone. The Progresso. Walsh's description of a slaver in 1829. The trade 
in 1820. The slave-trade in Cuba officers of government interested in it. Efforts of 
Spain insincere. Slave barracoons near Governor's palace conduct of the inmates. 
The Bozals. Bryan Edwards' description of natives of Gold Coast their courage and 
endurance. Number of slaves landed at Rio in 1838 barracoons at Rio government 
tax. Slave-trade Insurance Courts of Mixed Commission their proceedings at Sierra 
Leone in 1838. Joint stock slave-trade companies at Rio. The Cruisers intercepted 
letters. Mortality of the trade. Abuses of the American flag. Consul Trist and 
British commissioners. Correspondence of American Ministers to Brazil, Mr. Todd, 
Mr. Proffit, Mr. Wise. Extracts from Parliamentary papers. Full list of Conventions 
and Treaties made by England for suppression of Slave-trade. 


import negroes as slaves from Africa is now illegal, according to the laws 
of civilized nations. Those nations which keep up slavery, such as Brazil, 
Cuba and the United States, are supposed to breed all the slaves they require, 
within their own territories. But such is not the fact. The slave-trade is not 
yet suppressed ; and the immese labors of philanthropists and statesmen, the 
struggles and negotiations of half a century, have not been crowned with per 



feet success. It is stated, upon good authority, that in 1844, more slaves were 
carrid away from Africa in ships than in 1744, when the trade was legal and 
in full vigor. The legal trade, pursued openly, has been changed into a con 
traband trade, pursued secretly ; and the profits, determined from a number of 
random cases, have averaged from 180 to 200 per cent. Accordingly, a vigor 
ous traffic has been carried on by French, Spanish, Portuguese, British and 
American crews. Spaniards and Portuguese, however, predominate, and the 
wages are large. They carry their cargoes to Brazil, Cuba, Porto Rico, &c. ; 
and it has been charged that some are landed secretly in the United States, as 
there are slaves in the extreme southern States who cannot speak English. 
But Brazil and Cuba are the principal slave-importing countries. Sir Powell 
Buxton, in 1835, calculated that "Brazil imports annually about 80,000, and 
Cuba about 60,000 slaves. If we add 10,000 for all other places, the annual 
delivery of negroes into the slave-using countries of America will amount to 
150,000." Africa, however, loses far more than America gains. According 
to his estimates, the whole wastage or tare of the traffic is seven-tenths ; 
that is to say, for every ten negroes whom Africa parts with, America receives 
only three ; the other seven die. This enormous wastage may be divided into 
three portions the wastage in the journey from the interior of Africa to the 
coast, the wastage in the passage across the Atlantic, and the wastage in the 
process of seasoning after landing. The first is estimated at one-half of the 
original number brought from the interior, the second at one-fourth of the 
number shipped, and the third at one-fifth of the number landed. In other 
words, if 400,000 negroes are collected in the interior of Africa, then of these 
one-half will die before reaching the coast, leaving only 200,000 to be shipped; 
of these one-fourth will die in the passage across the Atlantic, leaving only 
150,000 to be landed ; and of these one-fifth will die in the process of season 
ing, leaving only 120,000 available for labor in America. 

While the trade was legal, the ships designed for carrying slaves were, in a 
great measure, constructed like other vessels ; though, in order to make the 
cargo as large as possible, the negroes were packed very closely together. The 
number of negroes which a vessel was allowed to carry was fixed by law. 
British vessels of 150 tons and under, were not to carry more than five slaves 
to every three tons of measurement. In 1789, a parliamentary committee en 
gaged in inquiries connected with Sir W. Dolben's bill, found, by actual meas 
urement of a slave ship, that, allowing every man six feet by one foot four 
inches, every woman five feet by one foot four inches, every boy five feet by 
one foot two inches, and every girl four feet six inches by one foot, the ship 
would hold precisely 450 negroes. The actual number carried was 454 ; and 
in previous voyages she had carried more. This calculation, illustrated as it 
was by an engraving, caused an immense sensation at the time, and assisted in 
mitigating the miseries of the passage. In order to escape the cruisers, all 
slave ships now are built on the principle of fast sailing. The risk of being 
captured takes away all inducement, from mere selfish motives, to make the 
cargo moderate ; on the contrary, it is an object now to make the cargo as 


large as possible, for then the escape of one cargo out of three will amply re 
pay the dealer. Accordingly, the negroes now are packed in the slave ships 
literally (and this is the comparison always used) like herring in a barrel. 
They have neither standing room, nor sitting room, nor lying room ; and as 
for change of position during the voyage, the thing is impossible. They are 
cooped up anyhow, squeezed into crevices, or jammed up against the curved 
planks. The following is a brief description given by an eye-witness of tho 
unloading of a captured slaver which had been brought into Sierra Leone : 
"The captives were now counted; their numbers, sex, and age, written down, 
for the information of the court of mixed commission. The task was repulsive. 
As the hold had been divided for the separation of the men and the women, 
those on deck were first counted ; they were then driven forward, crowded as 
much as possible, and the women were drawn up through the small hatchway 
from their hot, dark confinement. A black boatswain seized them one by one, 
dragging them before us for a moment, when the proper officer, on a glance, 
decided the age, whether above or under fourteen ; and they were instantly 
swung again by their arm into their loathsome cell, where another negro boat 
swain sat, with a whip or stick, and forced them to resume the bent and pain 
ful attitude necessary for the stowage of so large a number. The unfortunate 
women and girls, in general, submitted with quiet resignation, when absence of 
disease and the use of their limbs permitted. A month had made their condi 
tion familiar to them. One or two were less philosophical, or suffered more 
acutely than the rest. Their shrieks rose faintly from their hidden prison, as 
violent compulsion alone squeezed them into their nook against the curve of 
the ship's side. I attempted to descend in order to see the accommodation. 
The height between the floor and ceiling was about twenty-two inches. The 
agony of the position of the crouching slaves may be imagined, especially that 
of the men, whose heads and necks are bent down by the boarding above them. 
Once so fixed, relief, by motion or change of posture, is unattainable. The 
body frequently stiffens in a permanent curve ; and in the streets of Freetown 
I have seen liberated slaves of every conceivable state of distortion. One I 
remember who trailed along his body, with his back to the ground, by means of 
his hands and ankles. Many can never resume the upright posture-." 

One item of the enormous mortality during the passage consists of negroes 
thrown overboard when the slaver is chased, or when a storm arises. Many 
thousands perish annually in this way. Very frequently it is decided, upon 
trial, that the capture of the vessel has been illegal ; and then the slaver sails 
away triumphantly, the poor negroes on board having only been tantalized 
with the hope of freedom. A remarkable case of this kind is told by Mr. 
Rankin in his account of a visit to Sierra Leone, in 1834: 

"On the morning after my arrival at Sierra Leone," says Mr. Rankin, "I 
was indulging in the first view of the waters of the estuary glittering in the 
hot sun, and endeavoring to distinguish from the many vessels at anchor the 
bark which had brought me from England. Close in-shore lay a large 
schooner, so remarkable from the low, sharp cot of her black hull, and the 


excessive rake of her masts, that she seemed amongst the other craft as a swallow 
seems amongst other birds. Her deck was crowded with naked blacks, whose 
woolly heads studded the rail. She was a slaver with a large cargo. la the 
autumn of 1833 this schooner, apparently a Brazilian, and named with the 
liberty-stirring appellation of 'Dona Maria da Gloria,' had left Loando, on 
the slave coast, with a few bales of merchandise, to comply with the formalities 
required by the authorities from vessels engaged in legal traffic ; for the slave- 
trade, under the Brazilian flag, is now piracy. No sooner was she out of port 
than the real object of her voyage declared itself. She hastily received on 
board four hundred and thirty negroes, who had been mustered in readiness, 
and sailed for Rio Janeiro. Off the mouth of that harbor she arrived in No 
vember, and was captured as a slaver by his majesty's brig Snake. The case 
was brought in December before the court established there ; and the court de 
cided that, as her Brazilian character had not been fully made out, it was in 
competent to the final decision of the case. It was necessary to apply to the 
court of mixed commission at Sierra Leone for the purpose of adjudication. 
A second time, therefore, the unfortunate dungeon-ship put to sea with her 
luckless cargo, and again crossed the Atlantic amidst the horrors of a two 
month's voyage. The Dona Maria da Gloria having returned to Africa, cast 
anchor at Freetown in the middle of February, 1834, and on arrival, found the 
number reduced by death from four hundred and thirty to three hundred and 
thirty- five. 

" Continuance of misery for several months in a cramped posture, in a pes 
tilential atmosphere, had not only destroyed many, but had spread disease 
amongst the survivors. Dropsy, eruptions, abscesses, and dysentery were 
making ravages, and ophthalmia was general. Until formally adjudicated by 
the court, the wretched slaves could not be landed, nor even relieved from their 
sickening situation. With the green hills and valleys of the colony close to 
them, they must not leave their prison. I saw them in April ; they had been 
in the harbor two months, and no release had been offered them. But the 
most painful circumstance was the final decision of the court. The slaver 
was proved to have been sailing under Portuguese colors, not Brazilian ; and 
the treaty with the Portuguese prohibits slave traffic to the north of a certain 
line only, whereas the Dona Maria had been captured a few degrees to the 
south. No alternative remained. Her capture was decided to have been ille 
gal. She was formally delivered up to her slave : captain ; and he received 
from the British authorities written orders to the commanders of the British 
cruisers, guaranteeing a safe and free passage back to the Brazils ; and I saw 
the evil ship weigh anchor and leave Sierra Leone, the seat of slave liberation, 
with her large canvas proudly swelling, and her ensign floating as if in con 
tempt and triumph. Thus, a third time were the dying wretches carried across 
the Atlantic after seven months' confinement ; few probably lived through the 

Formerly, the forfeited slave-ships at Sierra Leone used to be sold ; and 

there were frequent instances of a forfeited slaver sold in one year plying the 



same trade the next. With regard to the crews, Sir Fowell Buxton remarks, 
that the law by which Great Britain, Brazil, and North America have made 
slave-dealing piracy, and liable to capital punishment, is, practically, a dead 
letter, there being no instance of an execution for that crime. 

Perhaps never has the inefficacy of all that has yet been done towards the 
suppression of the slave-trade been more strikingly made out than in the har 
rowing pamphlet published by the Rev. Pascoe Grenfell Hill, entitled " Fifty 
Days on Board a Slave- Yessel in the Mozambique Channel, in April and May, 
1843." The Progresso, a Brazilian slaver, was captured on the 12th of April, 
on the coast of Madagascar, by the British cruiser Cleopatra, on board of which 
Mr. Hill was chaplain. The slaver was then taken charge of by a British 
crew, who were to navigate her to the Cape of Good Hope. Mr. Hill, at his 
own request, accompanied her ; and his pamphlet is a narrative of what took 
place during the fifty days which elapsed before their arrival at the Cape. We 
cannot here quote the details of the description of the treatment of the negroes 
given by Mr. Hill ; but the following account of the horrors of a single night 
will suffice. Shortly after the Progresso parted company with the Cleopatra, 
a squall arose, and the negroes, who were breathing fresh air on deck, and roll 
ing themselves about for glee, and kissing the hands and clothes of their de 
liverers, were all sent below. "The night," says Mr. Hill, "being intensely 
hot, 400 wretched beings thus crammed into a hold 12 yards in length, 7 feet 
in breadth, and only 3 feet in height, speedily began to make an effort to 
re-issue to the open air. Being thrust back, and striving the more to get out, 
the after-hatch was forced down on them. Over the other hatchway, in the 
fore part of the vessel, a wooden grating was fastened. To this, the sole inlet 
for the air, the suffocating heat of the hold, and perhaps panic from the strange 
ness of their situation, made them press ; and thus a great part of the space 
below was rendered useless. They crowded to the grating, and clinging to it 
for air, completely barred its entrance. They strove to force their way through 
apertures in length 14 inches, and barely 6 inches in breadth, and in some in 
stances succeeded. The cries, the heat I may say without exaggeration, ' the 
smoke of their torment ' which ascended, can be compared to nothing earthly. 
One of the Spaniards gave warning that the consequence would be ' many 
deaths.'" Next day the prediction of the Spaniard "was fearfully verified. 
Fifty-four crushed and mangled corpses lifted up from the slave deck have been 
brought to the gangway and thrown overboard. Some were emaciated from 
disease, many bruised and bloody. Antonio tells me that some were found 
strangled, their hands still grasping each other's throats, and tongues protrud 
ing from their mouths. The bowels of one were crushed out. They had been 
trampeled to death for the most part, the weaker under the feet of the stronger, 
in the madness and torment of suffocation from crowd and heat. It was a 
horrid sight as they passed one by one the stiff, distorted limbs smeared with 
blood and filth to be cast into the sea. Some, still quivering, were laid on 
the deck to die ; salt water thrown on them to revive them, and a little fresh 
water poured into their mouths. Antonio reminded me of his last night's 


warning. He actively employed himself, with his comrade Sebastian, in atten 
dance on the wretched living beings now released from their confinement below ; 
distributing to them their morning meal of farina, and their allowance of 
water, rather more than half a pint to each, which they grasped with incon 
ceivable eagerness, some bending their knees to the deck, to avoid the risk of 
losing any of the liquid by unsteady footing ; their throats, doubtless, parched 
to the utmost with crying and yelling through the night." 

On the 12th of April, when the Progresso parted company with the Cleopa 
tra, there were 391 negroes on board. Of these only 222 were landed at the 
Cape on the 22d of May ; no fewer than 175, a little short of half, having 
died. Many also died after being landed. The crew escaped, there being no 
court empowered to try them at the Cape. 

Walsh, in his notices of Brazil, in 1828 and 1829, says, in describing a slave- 
ship, examined by the English man-of-war in which he returned from Brazil, 
in May, 1829 : " She had taken in, on the coast of Africa, 336 males and 226 
females, making in all 562, and had been out seventeen days, during which 
she had thrown overboard fifty-five. The slaves were all enclosed under grated 
hatchways, between decks. The space was so low, that they sat between each 
other's legs, and stowed so close together that there was no possibility of their 
lying down, or at all changing their position by night or day. As they be 
longed to, and were shipped on account of, different individuals, they were all 
branded, like sheep, with the owners' marks, of different forms. These were 
impressed under their breasts, or on their arms, and, as the mate informed me, 
with perfect indifference, ' queimados pelo ferro quento burnt with the red 
hot iron.' Over the hatchway stood a ferocious looking fellow, with a scourge 
of many twisted thongs in his hand, who was the slave-driver of the ship ; and 
whenever he heard the slightest noise below, he shook it over them, and seemed 
eager to exercise it. As soon as the poor creatures saw us looking down at 
them, their dark and melancholy visages brightened up. They perceived some 
thing of sympathy and kindness in our looks, which they had not been accus 
tomed to, and feeling, instinctively, that we were friends, they immediately 
began to shout and clap their hands. One or two had picked up a few Portu 
guese words, and cried out, ' Viva ! viva /' The women were particularly ex 
cited. They all held up their arms ; and when we bent down and shook hands 
with them, they could not contain their delight ; they endeavored to scramble 
upon their knees, stretching up to kiss our hands ; and we understood that they 
knew we had come to liberate them. Some, however, hung down their heads 
in apparently hopeless dejection ; some were greatly emaciated, and some, 
particularly children, seemed dying. But the circumstance which struck us 
most forcibly, was, how it was possible for such a number of human beings to 
exist, packed up and wedged together as tight as they could cram, in low cells, 
three feet high, the greater part of which, except that immediately under the 
grated hatchways, was shut out from light or air, and this when the thermom 
eter, exposed to the open sky, was standing in the shade, on our deck, at 89. 
The space between decks was divided into two compartments, three feet three 


inches high ; the size of one was sixteen feet by eighteen, and of the othe 
forty by twenty-one ; into the first were crammed the women and girls ; into 
the second, the men and boys : 226 fellow creatures were thus thrust into one 
space 288 feet square, and 336 into another space 800 feet square giving to 
the whole an average of twenty-three inches, and to eacn of tne women not 
more than thirteen inches, though many of them were pregnant. We also 
found manacles and fetters of different kinds ; but it appears they had all been 
taken off before we boarded. The heat of these horrid places was so great, 
and the odor so offensive, that it was quite impossible to enter them, even had 
there been room. They were measured, as above, when the slaves had left 
them. The officers insisted that the poor suffering creatures should be admitted 
on deck, to get air and water. This was opposed by the mate of the slaver, 
who, from a feeling that they deserved it, declared they would murder them 
all. The officers, however, persisted, and the poor beings were all turned up 
together. It is impossible to conceive the effect of this eruption 50T fellow 
creatures, of all ages and sexes, some children, some adults, some old men and 
women, all in a state of total nudity, scrambling out together to taste the lux 
ury of a little fresh air and water. They came swarming up like bees from 
the aperture of a hive, till the whole deck was crowded to suffocation, from 
stem to stern ; so that it was impossible to imagine where they could all have 
come from, or how they could all have been stowed away. On looking into 
the places where they had been crammed, there were found some children next 

, fc* 

the sides of the ship, in the places most remote from light and air ; they were 
lying nearly in a torpid state, after the rest had turned out. The little crea 
tures seemed indifferent as to life or death ; and when they were carried on 
deck, many of them could not stand. After enjoying, for a short time, the 
unusual luxury of air, some water was brought ; it was then that the extent of 
their sufferings was exposed in a fearful manner. They all rushed like maniacs 
towards it. No entreaties, or threats, or blows, could restrain them ; they 
shrieked and struggled, and fought with one another, for a drop of this precious 
liquid, as if they grew rabid at the sight of it. There is nothing which slaves, 
.yin the mid-passage, suffer from so much as want of water. It is sometimes 
usual to take out casks filled with sea-water as ballast, and when the slaves are 
received on board, to start the casks and refill them with fresh. On one occa 
sion a ship from Bahia neglected to change the contents of the casks, and on 
the mid-passage found, to their horror, that they were filled with nothing but 
salt water. All the slaves on board perished ! We could judge of the extent 
of their sufferings from the afflicting sight we now saw. When the poor crea 
tures were ordered down again, several of them came and pressed their heads 
against our knees, with looks of the greatest anguish, at the prospect of return 
ing to the horrid place of suffering below." 

The English ship, however, was obliged, though with great reluctance, to 
release the slaver, as it could not be proved, after a strict examination, that 
he had exceeded the privilege allowed to Brazilian ships of procuring slaves 
south of the line 


Admiral Sir George Collier, in his report to the lords of admirality, dated 
September 6, 1820, stated, that "in the last twelve months not less than 
60,000 Africans have been forced from their country, principally under the 
colors of France ; most of whom have 'been distributed between the islands of 
Martinique, Guadaioupe, and Cuba. The confidence under which vessels navi 
gate, bearing the French flag, has become so great, that I saw at Havana, in 
July last, no fewer than forty vessels fitting avowedly for the slave-trade, pro 
tected equally by the flags and papers of France and Spain. France has 
certainly issued her decrees against this traffic ; but she has done nothing to 
enforce them. On the contrary, she gives to the trade all countenance short 
of public avowal. 

"On this distressing subject, so revolting to every well regulated mind, I 
will add, that such is the merciless treatment of the slaves, by the persons en 
gaged in the traffic, that no fancy can picture the horror of the voyage. 
Crowded together so as not to give the power to move ; linked one to the 
other by the leg, never unfettered while life remains, or till the iron shall have 
fretted the flesh almost to the bone, forced under a deck, as I have seen 
them, not thirty inches in height; breathing an atmosphere the most putrid 
and pestilential possible ; with little food, and less water ; subject also to the 
most severe punishment at the caprice or fancy of the brute who may command 
the vessel ; it is to me a matter of extreme wonder that any of these miserable 
people live the voyage through ; many of them, indeed, perish on the passage, 
and those who remain to meet the shore, present a picture of wretchedness 
language cannot express." 

The following singular and distressing circumstance occurred about the same 
time: The ship Le Rodeur, of 200 tons burthen, left Havre the 24th of Jan 
uary, 1819, for the coast of Africa, and reached her destination on the 14th of 
March following, anchoring at Bonny, on the river Calabar. The crew, con 
sisting of twenty-two men, enjoyed good health during the outward voyage, 
and during their stay at Bonny, where they continued till the 6th of April. 
They had observed no trace of ophthalmia among the natives ; and it was not 
until fifteen days after they had set sail on the return voyage, and the vessel 
was near the equator, that they perceived the first symptoms of this frightful 
malady. It was then remarked that the negroes, who, to the number of one 
hundred and sixty, were crowded together in the hold and between the decks, 
had contracted a considerable redness of the eyes, which spread with singular 
rapidity. No great attention was at first paid to these symptoms, which were 
thought to be caused only by the want of air in the hold, and by the scarcity 
of ivater which had already begun to be felt. At this time they were limited 
to eight ounces of water a day for each person, which quantity was afterwards 
reduced to the half of a wine glass. By the advice of M. Maignan, the 
surgeon of the ship, the negroes, who had hitherto remained shut up in the 
hold, were brought upon deck in succession, in order that they might breathe a 
purer air. But it became necessary to abandon this expedient, salutary as it 


was, because many of those negroes, affected with nostalgia, threw themselves 
into the sea, locked in each others arms. 

The disease which had spread itself so rapidly and frightfully among the 
Africans, soon began to infect all on board, and to create alarms for the crew. 
The danger of infection, and perhaps the cause which produced the disease, 
were increased by a violent dysentery, attributed to the use of rain water. 
The first of the crew who caught the infection was a sailor who slept under 
the deck, near the grated hatch which communicated with the hold. The next 
day a landsman was seized with ophthalmia ; and, in three days more the 
captain and almost the whole crew were infected by it. 

The sufferings of the people and the number of the blind augmented every 
day, so that the crew previously alarmed by the apprehension of a revolt 
among the negroes were seized with the further dread of not being able to 
make the West Indies, if the only sailor who had hitherto escaped the conta 
gion, and on whom their whole hope rested, should become blind like the rest. 
This calamity had actually befallen the Leon, a Spanish slaver which the 
Rodeur met with on her passage, and the whole of whose crew, having becpme 
blind, were under the necessity of altogether abandoning the direction of their 
ship. They entreated the charitable interference of the Rodeur ; but the sea 
men of this vessel could not either quit her to go on board the Leon, on ac 
count of the cargo of negroes, nor receive the crew in the Rodeur, in which 
there were scarcely room for themselves. The difficulty of taking care of so 
large a number of sick in so confined a space, and the total want of fresh 
meat and of medicines, made them envy the fate of those who were about to 
become the victims of a death which seemed to them inevitable, and the con 
sternation was general. 

The Rodeur reached Gaudaloupe on the 21st of June, 1819, her crew being 
in a most deplorable condition. Three days after her arrival, the only man 
who, during the voyage, had withstood the influence of the contagion, and 
whom Providence appeared to have preserved as a guide to his unfortunate 
companions, was seized with the same malady. Of the negroes, thirty-nine 
had become perfectly blind, twelve had lost an eye, and fourteen were affected 
with blemishes more or less considerable. Of the crew, twelve -lost their sight 
entirely, among whom was the surgeon ; five become blind of one eye, one of 
them being the captain, and four were partially injured. 

Such were the miseries of this voyage of iniquity, but the atrocities of it 
even transcended its miseries. It is stated among other things, that the cap 
tain caused several of the negroes who were prevented in the attempt to throw 
themselves overboard to be shot and hanged in the hope that the example 
might deter the rest from a similar conduct. But even this severity proved 
unavailing, and it became necessary to confine the slaves entirely to the hold 
during the remainder of the voyage. It is further stated, that upwards of 
thirty of the slaves who became blind were thrown into the sea and drowned 
upon the principle that had they been landed at Guadaloupe no one would 
have bought them, and that the proprietors would consequently have incurred 



the expense of maintaining them without the chance of any return ; while by 
throwing them overboard not only was this certain loss avoided, but ground 
was also laid for a claim on the underwriters by whom the cargo had been in 
sured, and who are said to have allowed the claim and made good the value 
of the slaves thus destroyed. 

In the memorial of the colonization society presented to congress in 1822, 
it was stated that official documents had been presented to government, from 
which it appeared that in 1821, two hundred thousand had been carried away 
from the coast of Africa. 

The African institution reported that in 1822, 28,246 slaves were imported 
into Rio de Janeiro alone from the coast. The number embarked had been 
31,240 3,484 having died on the passage. 

In 1824, the same society reported that 120,000 were taken from Africa 
during that year. 

In 1825, "there were," says Commodore Bullen, "in the river Bonny alone 
200T tons of shipping, 293 persons and 35 guns, under the flag of the French 
nation, employed in the speculation of human flesh. " 

In 1822, four slave vessels were taken on the river Bonny by a squadron 
under Sir Robert Mends, stationed by the British government on the coast of 
Africa to prevent the infraction of the laws for the abolition of the slave-trade. 
The vessels were Spanish and French. They had nearly 1300 slaves on board. 
A Spanish schooner, when taken possession of, had a lighted match hanging 
over the open magazine hatch. The match was placed there by the crew, 
before they leaped overboard and swam for the shore ; it was seen by one of 
the seamen, who boldly put his hat under the burning wick and removed it. 
The magazine contained a large quantity of powder. One spark from the 
flaming match would have blown up 325 unfortunate victims lying in irons in 
the hold. These monsters in iniquity expressed their deep regret after the 
action .that their diabolical plan had failed. 

On board another of the vessels, Lieutenant Mildmay, the officer who cap 
tured her, observed a slave girl about twelve or thirteen years of age in irons, 
to which was fastened a thick iron chain, ten feet in length, that was dragged 
along as she moved. He ordered the girl to be instantly released from this 
fetter; and that the captain who had treated her so cruelly might not be 
ignorant of the pain inflicted upon an unprotected and innocent child, the irons 
were ordered to be put upon him. 

The slaves in one of the vessels at the time of the capture, were found in 
the most wretched condition ; some lying on their backs, others sitting on the 
bottom of the ships. They were chained to each other by the arms and legs ; 
iron collars were placed round their necks. In addition to these provisions 
for confinement, they were fastened together by a long chain which connected 
several of the collars for their greater security in that dismal prison. Thumb 
screws, to be used as instruments of torture, were also found in the vesseL 
From their confinement and sufferings, the slaves often injured themselves by 
beating, and vented their grief upon such as were next to them by biting and 



tearing their flesh. Some of them were bound by cords, and many had their 
arms grievously lacerated. 

In 1825, on board a schooner's boat of only five tons burthen which was 
taken, were found seventeen slaves, twenty-three had been taken in, six had 
already died. The negroes were in a state of complete starvation and ap 
proaching dissolution. The space allowed them was n<J more than eighteen 
inches between the water casks and the deck. 

The Aviso, another captured vessel, had 465 slaves on board ; of whom 34 
died after their capture, notwithstanding every attention. Such was the filth 
and crowd that not half could have reached the Brazils alive. Commodore 
Bullen put the crew on shore in Prince's island. These wretches, as soon as 
they found that they must be boarded, had stove in their boilers, as a last 
malignant effort to add to the misery of those whom a few minutes would 
place beyond their power. 

One Oiseau, commander of a French slave-ship called Le Louis, having 
completed his cargo on the old Calabar, thrust them all between decks, (a 
height of only three feet,) and closed the hatches on them for the night. Fifty 
were found dead in the morning. As a matter of course, he only immediately 
returned on shore to supply their place. Captain Arnaud, of the Louisa, 
arrived at Guadaloupe with 200 negroes, the remainder of an original cargo of 
265. Having by mistake purchased more than he could accommodate, he had 
thrown the odd 65 into the sea. 

A writer in the African Repository, who visited Africa in one of our na 
tional vessels, states that the steward of the vessel had been to Africa five 
times in a slave-ship. On one occasion, when an insurrection was expected, 
they shot two hundred of the slaves. Out of 400, the number which they car 
ried at each trip, 40 died on every passage. The African Institution in one 
of their reports publishes the following deed of infernal atrocity: A French 
slaver having landed part of a cargo of 250 slaves at Guadaloupe, was pur 
sued by an armed French vessel, when, to avoid detection, they threw the re 
maining sixty-five overboard, all of whom perished. 

A writer in a letter from Rio de Janeiro, dated January 11, 1830, says: "I 
will relate but a single fact at this time to show the dreadful character of the 
slave-trade. The Brazilian government derives a large revenue from the im 
portation of slaves, by laying a duty of so much per head immediately on 
their arrival without regard to their health or condition. When vessels, there 
fore, which have slaves on board arrive off the port, a general survey takes 
place by the physician, and those poor wretches whose existence is doubtful 
are thrown overboard in order to save the duty." 

Mr. Robert Baird, in his " Impressions of the West Indies and North Amer 
ica," in 1849, speaking of the slave-trade, says : "There can be no doubt of 
the fact, that during the last year the importation of slaves into the island of 
Cuba has been carried on in full vigor so vigorously and extensively that the 
price of slaves had fallen, in consequence of the plentiful supply, from four 
hundred and fifty or five hundred, to from two hundred and fifty to three hun- 

CUBA. 291 

clred dollars. This fact is notorious, and I heard it authenticated by official 
authority. It is equally notorious in the island itself that the agent of the 
queen mother of Spain was and is extensively engaged in the infamous traffic ; 
and it is more than suspected that, directly or indirectly, his royal mistress is 
a large participator in the heavy gains her agent realizes from this trade in hu 
man flesh. Indeed, the traffic is little short of being a legalized one ; the 
amount of dollars payable to the governor or to the government (for there is 
much difference between these two) being, if not fixed by law or order, at leas' 
as well understood as if it were so. All this is, of course, in direct and mani 
fest violation of the engagements and treaties made by Spain with England ; 
and it is an ascertained fact that fully one-half of the slaves in Cuba are there 
held in abject bondage in violation of these solemn treaties and engagements. 
Indeed, were it otherwise, it were nearly impossible that the Spanish colonists 
of Cuba could find slaves to cultivate their fields. Every one who knows Cu 
ba, and the brutal manner in which the great mass of the agricultural slaves 
are treated there, will laugh at the idea of the slave population of Cuba being 
self-supporting. They also know that it is much cheaper to import slaves than 
to breed them. The planter in Cuba found this to be the case, even when the 
vigilance of the British and French cruisers had made slaves so scarce in Cuba 
that the price of an able-bodied one was fully five hundred dollars. Of course, 
now that such vigilance had been, for a time, at least, relaxed, and the price 
of slaves had fallen to from two hundred and fifty to three hundred dollars, the 
greater economy of keeping up the breed by importation is too plain to be 
overlooked. Hence it is that the idea of a self-supporting system seems to be 
quite out of the Cuban's calculations, and that in the barracoons on his estates 
there are often to be found numerous bands of males and but a very few fe 
males, or oftimes none at all. It has been said, and it is generally credited by 
intelligent parties resident in Cuba, that the average duration of the life of a 
Cuban slave, after his arrival in the island, does not exceed seven or eight 
years. In short, that he is worked out in that time. His bodily frame cannot 
stand the excessive toil for a longer period ; and, after that average period, his 
immortal spirit escapes from the tortured tenement of clay. Ye extenuators 
of slavery and of the slave-trade, ponder this ascertained fact. Is it not enough 
to make the flesh creep, and to unite all civilized mankind to put an end at 
least to the traffic in slaves ? ' Nor is it only by treaties that Spain and Bra 
zil are bound to cease their illegal traffic in human flesh. England has paid 
them large sums of money as the condition of their doing so ; and these sums 
they have received and accepted, under the annexed and expressed condition. 
It has been unjustly said by some writers on the other side of the Atlantic 
writers evidently in the pay of those who think it for their interest to prevent 
their country from sharing in the glory Great Britain has acquired and will ac 
quire, by her efforts for suppressing and putting an end to the horrors of the 
slave-trade that Great Britain has no right to interfere with Spain and Bra 
zil as regards this trade in their own colonies ; that slavery is a domestic insti 
tution, with which foreign nations have nothing whatever to do ; and that, in 


debarring Spain and Brazil from the conduct of this traffic, the British lion is 
doing little more than acting the bully. Such writers forget the contract part 
of the matter. Were England seeking, by threat or force of arms, to promote 
the emancipation of slaves within any country or any colony, large or small, 
there might be some foundation for the argument. As it is, there is none. She 
is only demanding and requiring that Spain and Brazil should do what they 
have promised and engaged to do, what they have been paid for doing, but 
what they have hitherto failed to perform. Happy is it for England that, in 
enforcing these claims, she is fighting in the sacred cause of humanity. 

" It is also said, and universally credited, that the present captain-general 
views the slave-trade with an indulgent eye. At all events, it is indisputable 
that the importation of slaves into the island, which fell off greatly under the 
influence of England and the activity of the English cruisers, during the latter 
years of the dynasty of the late governor, (Count O'Donnel,) has of late years, 
and since the Count of Alcoy assumed the reins of government, received a 
fresh impetus, and is now flourishing in fullest vigor. How far the governor 
is personally concerned in the production of this result, it were next to impos 
sible to ascertain exactly ; but assuredly his correspondence with the represen 
tative of Britain in the island, as to the landing of slaves, in the course of 
which the British consul-general offered to give his excellency ocular evidence 
of the truth of his informant's story that slaves had been lately landed from 
a slaver, and were then in course of sale does not indicate any desire either 
to suppress the traffic or to keep faith with Britain. Indeed, it is publicly af 
firmed that a regularly fixed fee (some fifty dollars a-head) is exacted by the 
governor on each slave that is brought in, besides sundry other fees to the cap 
tain of the port or harbor-master, and other officials, who have the power of 
prevention more or less in their hands. In short, the system is a complete one, 
and completely inoculated into the principles of Cuban government. No 
doubt a semblance of respect for the solemn treaties made with Britain, and for 
the entering into which Spain has been paid, is kept up in the island. The 
barbarian victims of the inhuman slave-trade are exposed to sale not as slaves, 
but as ' goods ' or ' merchandise,' (bultos,) and some such farce is occasionally 
exhibited as this : A few of the imported slaves such of them as are sick, 
disabled, infirm, or likely to die, and of course are of little or no value are 
taken possession of by government authority, and an attempt is made to 
' throw dust in the eyes of the English,' by making a noise about the matter, 
and formally delivering up the miserable wretches, thus 'seized,' as slaves im 
ported into Cuba, in violation of the solemn treaties made by Spain with Eng 
land much being vaunted, at the time, of Spanish honor and national good 
faith. If any thing could make matters worse than the real disregard of the 
treaties, it would be conduct such as this hypocrisy added to dishonesty, and 
the whole veiled in high-sounding words. And yet such pretended seizures 
and deliveries are often taking place. One had occurred only a few days be 
fore I reached Cuba, the number then seized being under twenty ; while the 
knowr number of slaves actually introduced into the island, during that and 

CUBA. 293 

the previous month, had not been less than four thousand, and while the aver 
age rate of present import is not under two thousand per month." 

In 1840, Turnbull published his work on " Cuba and Porto Rico." He was 
a close observer of every thing connected with slavery and the slave-trade, 
and the greater part of his work is devoted to this subject. From this relia 
ble source we gather some important facts : " As if to throw ridicule on the 
grave denials of all knowledge of the slave-trade which are forced from suc 
cessive captains-general of Cuba by the unwearied denunciations of the Brit 
ish authorities, two extensive depots for the reception and sale of newly im 
ported Africans have lately been erected at the further end of the Paseo, just 
under the windows of his excellency's residence ; the one capable of holding 
1000 and the other 1500 negroes. These were constantly full during the 
greater part of the time I remained in Havana. As the barracoou, or depot, 
serves the purpose of a slave-market as well as a prison, these two have been 
placed at the point of greatest attraction, where the Paseo ends, and where 
the grounds of the captain-general begin, and where the railroad passes into 
the interior. The passengers on the cars are horrified at the unearthly shouts 
of the thoughtless inmates, who, in their eagerness and astonishment at the 
passing train, push their arms and legs through the bars of the windows, with 
the cries, and grimace, and jesticulation, which might be expected from a horde 
of savages placed in circumstances so totally new and extraordinary. These 
barracoons are considered by the foreign residents as the lions of the place, 
and strangers are carried there as to a sight that cannot well be seen else 
where. On entering you do not find so much misery as an unreflecting visitor 
might expect. It is the policy of the importer to restore as soon as possible 
among the survivors, the strength that has been wasted, and the health that has 
been lost during the horrors of the middle passage. It is his interest to keep 
up the spirits of his victims, that they may the sooner become marketable, and 
prevent their sinking under that fatal home-sickness which carries off so many 
during the first months of their captivity. With this view they are well fed 
and clothed. Even after leaving the barracoons, the overseer of the planta 
tion finds it for the interest of his master to treat them with lenity for several 
months, scarcely allowing them to hear the crack of a whip, and breaking 
them in by slow degrees to the hours and weight of labor which are destined 
to break them down long before the period which nature prescribes. 
. " The well understood difficulty of breaking in men and women of mature 
age to the labors of the field, has produced a demand at the barracoons for 
younger victims. The range of years in the age of captives appeared to ex 
tend from twelve to eighteen, and the proportion of males to females was 
nearly three to one, as the demand for males was much greater. One motive 
for the continuation of the slave-trade is the well known fact, that a state of 
hopless servitude has the effect of enervating the slave, and reducing the phys 
ical powers of his descendants far below the average of his African ancestors. 
\. Bozal African commands a price twenty per cent higher than that of a 


Creole, born in slavery on the island. As applied to negroes, the terms Creole 
and Bozal are nearly antithetical." 

Bryan Edwards, the historian of the West Indies, in describing the charac 
teristics of the various tribes of Western Africa, speaks of the natives of the 
Gold Coast as constituting the genuine and original unmixed negro, both in 
person and character. He says "the Koromantyn or Gold Coast negroes 
are distinguished for firmness both of body and mind ; a ferociousness of dis 
position ; but withal activity, courage, and a stubbornness, or what an ancient 
Roman would have deemed an elevation of soul, which prompts them to en- 
terprizes of difficulty and danger, and enables them to meet death in its most 
horrible forms with fortitude or indifference. They take to labor with great 
promptitude and alacrity, and have constitutions well adapted for it. It is 
not wonderful that such men should endeavor, even by means the most desper 
ate, to regain the freedom of which they have been deprived." The historian 
describes a rebellion of these negroes which occurred in Jamaica in 1760. A 
band of about one hundred, newly imported, and led by one of their number 
who had been a chief in Guinea, having revolted and formed themselves into 
a body, about one o'clock in the morning proceeded to the fort at Port Maria, 
killed the sentinel, and provided themselves with arms and ammunition. Here 
they were joined by their countrymen from other plantations, and marched up 
the high road that led to the interior of the island, carrying death and desola 
tion as they went. They massacred the whites and mnlattoes as they went, 
and literally drank their blood mixed with rum. 

Their chief was killed by one of the parties that went in pursuit of them ; 
and three of the ringleaders were taken. One was condemned to be burnt, 
and the other two to be hung up alive in irons, and left to perish. The one 
that was burnt was made to sit on the ground, and his body being chained to 
an iron stake, the fire was applied to his feet. He uttered not a groan, and 
saw his legs reduced to ashes with the utmost firmness and composure. After 
which, one of his arms by some means getting loose, he snatched a brand from 
the fire that was consuming him, and flung it in the face of the executioner. 
The two that were hung up alive were indulged at their own request with a 
hearty meal before they were suspended on the gibbet, which was erected on 
the Kingston parade. From that time until they expired they never uttered 
the least complaint, except only of cold in the night, but diverted themselves 
all day long in discourse with their countrymen, who were permitted to sur 
round the gibbet. The historian says that he visited the gibbet on the seventh 
day, and while there, he heard them both laugh immoderately at some trifling 
occurrence. The next morning one of them silently expired, as did the other 
on the morning of the ninth day.* 

The British minister at Rio informed Lord Palmerston in 1838, that 36,974 
slaves had been imported into that single harbor during the year 1827, and that 

*Bryan Edwards' History of the West Indies. 


the number would have been greater but for the fact that several of the trad 
ers had discharged their vessels at other ports of the empire. 

" The system pursued at Rio (says Turnbull), seems, in many respects, to 
correspond with what I have witnessed at Havana. The receptacles for the 
Bozal negroes, which serve the double purpose of warehousing and exposing 
them for sale, are open in both places to public inspection ; although perhaps 
not so closely under the windows of the imperial palace at Rio, as they are 
under those of the captain-general's residence at Havana. Mr. Ouseley, the 
British minister, states that no less than 6,000 newly imported Africans have 
been exposed for sale at one time in the barracoons at Rio. The Brazilian 
authorities, like those of Cuba, have a direct pecuniary interest in promoting 
the traffic, by the existence of a sort of capitation tax on the imports, which 
is divided among the officers of the government. 

Two insurance companies were in operation in Havana with a capital of 
$850,000, for the purpose of covering slave risks. They exacted premiums 
varying from 25 to 40 per cent., according to the sailing qualities of the ship, 
and the character of the master for sagacity and courage. The business was 
also carried on by private underwriters. 

In 1837, seventy-eight slavers arrived at Havana under the Portuguese flag, 
each vessel averaging 300 slaves, making a total of 23,400. For each one of 
them the captain-general received the usual fee of a doubloon ; the levy on the 
whole yielding $360,000, which sum was divided, as customary, into four equal 
parts : the captain-general, the captain of the coast guard, the harbor masters 
where the landing is effected, and the local chiefs of the customs, receiving 
equal shares. The parties who pay it never obtain any thing in the nature of 
a receipt, or other written acknowledgment for the money. It will be ob 
served that the captain-general's interest is equal to a whole class of the mi 
nor functionaries. 

Ninety-three vessels, under the flag of Portugal, are reported to have en 
tered the harbor of Rio de Janeiro alone in 1837, and as many as eighty-four 
in 1838, from which, in two years, there were landed 78,300 slaves. These 
calculations do not include the number of slavers which resorted to other places 
in Cuba besides Havana, nor to other provinces in Brazil besides Rio de Ja 
neiro ; neither does it include the number which founder at sea, nor those which 
were captured and condemned at Sierra Leone. In that settlement there were 
at the time four courts of mixed commission the British and Brazilian, the 
British and Netherlands, the British and Spanish, and the British and Portu 
guese. In 1838, the number of captured slavers which passed through those 
courts amounted to thirty. The Dutch and Brazilian commissioners enjoyed 
a sinecure ; but although several of the thirty slavers were condemned in the 
Spanish court, as being liable under a new interpretation of the lex mercato- 
ria, to be treated as Spaniards, and so to be subject to the conditions of the 
treaty, it is a remarkable fact that every one of them professed to be Portu 
guese, and was provided with Portuguese papers. Eighteen were condemned 
in the Portuguese court, because the fact of their being full of slaves at the 


moment of capture was irresistible; one escaped condemnation; the other 
eleven were deprived of the shelter of the Portuguese flag and condemned in 
the Spanish court. Not one of the whole number, however, was really Portu 
guese : four were Brazilian, and the remaining twenty-six undoubtedly Span 
ish. Of the eleven condemned in the Spanish court, only one had embarked 
any slaves previous to her capture ; and it was in virtue of the " equipment 
clause " in the Clarendon treaty with Spain that they were subject to be con 

Joint stock companies were organized at Havana and Brazil, with heavy 
capitals, for the purpose of carrying on the slave-trade. Two of the above 
vessels belonged to one of these companies, the head-quarters of which were 
at Pernambuco. From papers found on board one of the vessels, it appeared 
that the company was composed of twenty members, and the capital invested, 
$80,000 ; and that they intended to establish a slave factory in the river Benin, 
and endeavor to secure a monopoly of the trade with the native princes. 
^ The small number of slavers captured in proportion to the number engaged 
in the trade, may be accounted for from the fact that the cruisers were engaged 
in the hopeless task of blockading and watching 8000 miles of coaf c : 300C 
miles of the African continent, embracing those portions only from whence 
slaves were obtained, and 5000 miles may be estimated for the shores of Bra 
zil, Cuba, and Porto Rico. 

From the papers and letters of instruction which occasionally fell into the 
hands of the captors, some curious facts are obtained. One treasurer of a com 
pany in Brazil writes to his agent on the coast, that among his stock in trade, 
to be sure at all times to have plenty of rum and tobacco, and to estimate all 
his goods at the highest possible prices ; and that as all savages have respect 
for some kind of religion, the agent must be sure to keep up the exercise of 
some external forms, which would give a desirable " moral force " to the estab 
lishment I The natives were to be treated with the utmost civility, but not the 
slightest confidence was to be placed in them. Intoxication was to be care 
fully guarded against by the servants of the company, but the natives were to 
be encouraged in it. All sorts of contrivances were resorted to in order to 
cheat the poor negroes. English calico was cut up the middle in order to 
double its length, and each piece of stripe, or handkerchief, was cut across, 
making two pieces ; the rum was adulterated, and the tobacco packed expressly 
for deception. From the intercepted correspondence we also gather some par 
ticulars in regard to the mortality of the trade. The Salome had landed a 
cargo of 253 slaves near Matanzas, of whom seven had died soon after they 
were landed, and twenty-seven others were sick ; seventy -four others had per 
ished during the voyage, " so that we shall with difficulty," the owneijs patheti 
cally observe to their agent in Africa, "get back the cost of our enterprise." 
The captain of another vessel writes back to the agent, " There were about 
100 of those embarked at your port infected with the putrid fever ; all our ex 
ertions could not stop the mortality, so that only one half have been saved of 
the number that ought to have been yielded by our abundant and well assorted 


barter, calculated to produce more than 400." Another merchant writes, " The 
business wears a most unfavorable aspect ; although the vessel arrived safely, 
we shall scarcely get back our outlay, for out of the small number embarked, 
there died eighty-one during the voyage and shortly after landing. The oth 
ers were sold at Matanzas, at an average of $306. The twenty who were sick 
brought us $2,304." 

The captains of the slavers were generally instructed to fly on the slightest 
appearance of danger "if you hesitate, you are lost." In one of the con 
tracts for wages between the owners and crew of a captured slaver, it was stip 
ulated, in order to compel the men to fight, that " wages shall not be due in 
the event of capture by a vessel of equal force, nor even in the event of cap 
ture by one of superior force, unless after an obstinate defense ; and in that case 
the wages of those who will not fight shall be forfeited, and divided among the 
brave defenders." 

The slavers were generally provided with three sets of papers, Spanish, Por 
tuguese, and American, and the American flag was frequently made use of to 
shield the miscreants. The Yenus, a ship of 460 tons, was built in Baltimore 
in 1838, expressly for a slaver. She arrived at Havana on the 4th of August 
in that year, and sailed shortly afterwards under American colors. She was 
owned by a Spaniard and a Frenchman, and was said to have cost them 
$100,000. She proceeded to the coast of Africa, and embarked the unprece 
dented number of 1,100 slaves, of whom the survivors, 860 in number, were 
landed on the coast. She had been absent but four months, and returned into 
port under Portuguese colors. It was asserted in Havana that $150,000 had 
been cleared by this single adventure. The arrival of the vessel occasioned a 
correspondence between the British commissioners and the American consul. 
The facts which brought about the correspondence were the notoriety with 
which a large vessel like the Yenus, built at Baltimore, had arrived from the 
United States and sailed on a slaving voyage under the American flag, together 
with the belief that several American citizens had embarked in her from Ha 
vana, and had also returned in her. It was also reported that the Yenus had 
been visited on the coast of Africa, still showing her American colors, by the 
officers of a British cruiser. It was even a subject of boast that although one 
of the British cruisers had seen the Yenus receive part of her cargo, yet that 
such was her superiority in sailing that it was found impossible to come up 
with her on the attempt being made to give chase. While the Yenus remained 
at Havana, she was visited by officers of the British navy. The Portuguese 
papers with which she returned were those of an old slaver, which had sailed 
under many a flag, and finally bore the Portuguese name of the Duquesa de 
Braganza, Jhe name which the Yenus assumed in order to have the benefit of 
her Portuguese papers, without the trouble or expense of going to purchase 

Under these circumstances, the British commissioners who were sent to Ha 
vana for the express purpose of contributing, as far as lay in their power, to 
the suppression of the slave-trade, felt it their duty to communicate the facts 


to the consular representative of the American government, and offered some 
friendly suggestions, such as an appeal to the captain-general, or the introven- 
tion of an American sloop of war then lying in Havana. By bringing the 
culprits to punishment, the American people and government would have been 
exculpated from all countenance to the disgraceful abuse which had thus been 
made of the American flag. Mr. Trist, the consul, however, saw the matter 
in a different light. He had once before been appealed to on the occasion of 
a similar abuse of his country's flag. The only notice he took of the commu 
nication was to return it. On this second occasion he pursued a different 
course. An answer was returned, in which the former communication is spoken 
of as an "insult" and an "outrage;" and he informed them that he "could not 
recognize the right of any agent of any foreign government to interfere in any 
possible mode or degree in the discharge of his duties." 

In afterwards remarking upon this communication, Lord Palmerston desired 
the commissioners to observe to Mr. Trist, "that the two governments having, 
by the tenth article of the treaty of Ghent, mutually engaged to each other 
that they would 'use their utmost endeavors to promote the entire abolition of 
the slave-trade,' it seems to be perfectly consistent with the respect which the 
agents of each country must feel for the other country, that they should not 
only themselves act in strict accordance with the spirit of the engagement 
which their own government has contracted, but that they should furnish to 
the agents of the other government any information which may be calculated 
to enable that other government more effectually to accomplish the common 
purpose." Mr. Trist also alluded, in his letter, to the manufacture of goods 
in Great Britain expressly designed for the African trade. Lord Palmerston 
directed the commissioners to state to that gentleman that "if he can at any 
time furnish her majesty's government, through them, with any information 
which may directly or indirectly enable the government to enforce the penalties 
of the law against British subjects who may be concerned in the slave-trade, 
her majesty's government will feel most sincerely obliged to him." 

Not long after, a similar case occurred with regard to a French vessel, Le 
Havre, which having sailed from Havana under French colors, and with several 
French citizens on board, for the coast of Africa, had reentered the port, after 
having landed 500 negroes on the shores of the island. The owner was a 
Frenchman, and his partners were Englishmen. A communication was ad 
dressed to the French consul, who applied immediately to the Prince de Join- 
ville, who was then with his ship at Havana. The prince forthwith dispatched 
a French vessel to capture the slaver, which had put to sea. The cruise was 
unsuccessful, however, as the Havre was wrecked, as the most efficacious way 
of silencing further inquiries. 

The object of the slavers in hoisting the American flag, is that it protects 
them from the right of search conceded by other nations to the cruisers en 
gaged in supporting the trade. The laws of the Union declares the slave- 
trade piracy the flag of the Union protects the miscreants engaged in it 

In order to obtain the protection of the American flag, a practice arose of 


sending Spanish vessels to Key West, and after a collusive sale had been 
effected, the vessels returned to Havana, to be dispatched to the coast of Africa 
under American colors. In this way, the Spanish schooner which went to Key 
West as the Espartero, came back as the Thomas, with American papers. A 
well known Spanish slaver went to New Orleans as the Conchita, and came 
back as the American schooner Encautadera. 

American vessels were privately sold in Havana, the American registers 
were retained, and the vessels proceded to the coast of Africa under American 
colors. The buyer generally stipulated that the American captain, or some 
American citizen to represent him, should remain on board, and the fact of the 
transfer remain in abeyance until the vessel arrived in Africa. The American 
captain retained the command, to mislead the commanders of the British 
cruisers ; but he gave it up as soon as the slaves were received on board, so as 
not to expose himself to the penalty of piracy in case of capture. The Amer 
ican flag and papers protected them from the right of search by the British 
cruisers the Portuguese flag and papers shielded them from the penalties of 
piracy if captured. They were provided with double captains, double papers 
and double flags. 

The American flag thus became involved in the slave traffic. In 1849, the 
British consul at Rio, in his public correspondence, says : " One of the